Horikita was sullen in the morning . It would be great if she cutely puffed up her cheeks and cutely hit a boy’s chest when she pouted .
I say that, but she’s completely expressionless and silent . She doesn’t even acknowledge my existence .
But if I turned my back to her, she might take out her compass… School ended and then it was after school .
“Did everyone gather for the study group?”
The first words she said to me were about the study group . She also spoke in a way that heavily implied something .
“… Kushida will bring them . I wonder if they’ll participate . ”
“Kushida’s bringing them, huh . Did you tell her properly that she’s not allowed to participate?”
Horikita headed to the library with those confident words . As I was about to walk out of the classroom, I looked at Kushida, who returned a cute wink .
Securing a corner of a long table near the edge of the library, we waited for the students .
“I brought them~!”
Kushida came to where we were waiting . Behind her was—
“We heard about the study group from Kushida-chan . I don’t want to drop out that quickly after school . Please take care of us . ”
Ike, Yamauchi, and Sudou . However, there was one unexpected visitor . A boy named Okitani .
“Okitani, you also got a red mark?
“Ah, uh, no . I was worried because I was right on the border… am I… not allowed to join? It’s a bit difficult to join Hirata-kun’s group…”
Okitani looked up at me with slightly red cheeks . Slender frame, blue hair, and a short-bob hairstyle . A boy weak to girls would immediately shout “I’m in love~!” If he wasn’t a boy, it would be dangerous .
“It’s fine if Okitani-kun joins, right?”
Kushida asked Horikita . His score was a 39 after all, so it’s natural for him to be worried .
“If it’s a student worried about getting red marks, then it’s fine . But you have to be diligent . ”
“O-ok . ”
Okitani sat down happily . Kushida tried to sit down next to him, but Horikita noticed .
“Kushida-san . Did Ayanokouji-kun not tell you? You’re—”
“To be honest, I’m also worried about getting bad grades . ”
“You… you didn’t get bad tests on that last test . ”
“Well, that was luck . There were a lot of multiple choice questions . So for about half of them, I guessed . In truth, I barely passed . ”
Kushida cutely scratched her cheek while saying “Ehehe” .
“I think I’m about the same level as Okitani-kun, if not worse . So I want to participate in the study group to avoid a bad grade . That’s fine, right?”
I couldn’t hide my surprise at Kushida’s bold and unexpected plan . After confirming that Okitani could join, she turned the tables . Horikita couldn’t help but to let her join .
“… Fine . ”
Kushida bowed to Horikita with a smile . Bringing Okitani was probably a part of her plan too . She used him as justification for her to join .
“Below 32 is a red mark . Then is 32 points also a failing grade?”
“If it’s ‘below’, then 32 points is safe . Sudou, can you even make that?”
Even Ike is worried about Sudou . Of course these guys would like to know if it’s “below” or “up to” .
“It doesn’t matter either way . My goal is to make everyone here get at least 50 points . ”
“Geh, isn’t that too hard for us?”
“It’s dangerous to just aim for the bare minimum . You guys, who aren’t even at the mark, are really troubling . ”
At Horikita’s sound argument, the group of failures reluctantly agreed .
“I was able to summarize most of the topics that will be covered on this test . I plan to thoroughly cover these topics in the next two weeks . If you have any questions that you don’t know, ask me . ”
“… Hey, I don’t even understand the first problem . ”
Sudou scowled at Horikita . I also read the question .
“A, B, and C have 2150 yen collectively . A has 120 yen more than B does . After C gives B 2/5ths of his money, B now has 220 yen more than A . How much money did A originally have?”
A problem involving system of equations . For a high school student, it should be a free point .
“Try using your brain . If you give up from the very beginning, you won’t get anywhere . ”
“Even if you say that… I don’t even know how to study . ”
“Everyone else in the school passed . ”
The school doesn’t decide on admissions solely based on scores . Sudou was probably accepted because of his high physical ability . If you think about it, wouldn’t he get kicked out immediately because of his bad grades?
“Ugh, I don’t know either…”
Ike was also puzzled as he scratched his head .
“Okitani-kun, do you know how to do this question?”
“Um… A+B+C equals 2150 yen, and A equals B+120…”
Okitani, who somehow avoided failing the last test, started writing down the equations .
Kushida was looking over his shoulder .
“Un un, that’s right, that’s right . And then?”
Kushida is certainly bold . Even though she said she was worried about getting a failing mark, she was teaching Okitani .
“Honestly speaking, this problem can be easily solved by first-year and second-year middle school students . If you fail here, you won’t be able to do anything .
“Are we elementary school students then…?”
“As Horikita-san said, it’s pretty bad if you can’t solve these problems . The first few math problems on the test were about this hard, but even I didn’t know how to do the last problem . ”
“I can teach you how to do systems of equations if you want . ”
Horikita picked up her pen without hesitating . It’s pitiful, but the only ones who understood how to do the problem were Kushida and Okitani .
“In the first place, what even is this ‘system of equations’ thing…?”
“… Are you serious?”
Wow, these guys really live without studying at all . Sudou threw his mechanical pencil at his desk .
“No, stop . This isn’t going to work . ”
Before even starting, Sudou already gave up .
Looking at his pitiful state, Horikita was fuming .
“E-everyone, wait . Let’s try our best . If you learn how to solve these problems, you can apply your knowledge to the questions on the test . Ok?”
“… Well, if Kushida-chan says so, we’ll try our best, but… If Kushida-chan taught it to us, I would probably work even harder . ”
Horikita stayed silent when Kushida was about to ask her . It was troubling that she didn’t say anything . However, if she stayed silent, the others might give up on studying . Kushida made up her mind and picked up the mechanical pencil .
“This is, as Horikita-san said, a problem that uses systems of equations . I’ll write down what I said as expressions . ”
As she said that, she wrote down the three equations . It looks like they’re trying their best, but even if she wrote down the equations and showed it to the them, they probably don’t understand . Rather than a study group, this is more like detention . They don’t get her explanation .
“So, the answer is 710 yen . Do you get it?”
Feeling satisfied, Kushida smiled and looked at Sudou .
“… Uh, then can you answer this question? Why?”
She finally realized . They didn’t follow her explanation .
“I’m not trying to deny you, but you guys are way too stupid and incompetent . ”
The silent Horikita spoke up .
“I’m scared for the future if you can’t solve this problem . ”
“So what . This has nothing to do with you . ”
Feeling irritated at Horikita’s words, Sudou hit the desk .
“It has nothing to do with me . No matter how much you suffer, it doesn’t affect me . It’s just that I feel pity for you . I guess I’ve been running away from painful things all my life . ”
“Say what you want to say clearly . Studying’s useless in the future anyway . ”
“Studying is useless in the future? An interesting argument . What makes you say that?”
“Even if I don’t know how to solve this kind of problem, I won’t have any trouble . Studying is unnecessary . Rather than sticking to a textbook, aiming to become a basketball pro is much more useful for the future . ”
“That’s wrong . If you learn how to solve that problem, your whole life will be changed . In other words, if you study, you’ll have less trouble . It’s the same thing for basketball . I wonder if you’ve been playing basketball to your own convenient rules . Do you run away from difficult things just like you do while studying? From the looks of it, it doesn’t seem like you practice seriously . That’s the kind of personality you have . If I was the advisor of the club, I wouldn’t let you be a regular . ”
Sudou stood up and grabbed Horikita by her collar .
Even faster than I could react, Kushida stood up and grabbed Sudou’s arm .
Horikita raised her eyebrows and stayed calm .
“I have no interest in you, but I can understand what kind of person you are . You want to become a basketball pro? Do you think that kind of childish wish can simply become true in this society? A half-hearted person like you who gives up easily can never become a pro . Furthermore, even if you become a pro, I don’t think you’d be able to get a sufficient annual income . You’re a fool for setting your sights on such a idealized job . ”
It’s clear that Sudou is on the brink of losing his control . If he raised his fist, I’ll also have to jump out and hold him back .
“Can you just give up on studying, no, school? And then you can give up on your dreams to become a basketball pro and live a pitiful life working a part time job . ”
“Ha… that’s just fine . I’m giving up . It’s not because it’s too difficult for me . I took a day off from my club activities, but it was a complete waste of time . Bye!”
“You’re saying some strange things . Studying is difficult . ”
Horikita shot him a final blow . If Kushida weren’t there, Sudou probably would’ve hit Horikita . Not hiding his irritation, he stuffed his textbook into his bag .
“Hey, is this ok?”
“Doesn’t matter . For someone who’s indifferent… it’s pointless to care about someone like that . Even though expulsion is at stake . He doesn’t have an ounce of determination to stay in school . ”
“I thought it was strange for someone like you who has no friends to invite people to a study group . At best, you brought us over here to call us stupid . If you weren’t a girl, I’d hit you . ”
“You just don’t have the courage to hit me, right? Don’t use my gender as a reason . ”
The study group started moments ago, but it was already crumbling .
“I also quit . Even though a small part of it is because I can’t study… most of it’s because I’m irritated . Horikita-san may be smart, but that doesn’t mean you’re above us . ”
Losing his patience, Ike also gave up .
“I don’t care whether or not you drop out of school, so do as you like . ”
“Well, I’ll pull an all-nighter for that . ”
“Interesting . Aren’t you here because you can’t study?”
Even for the usually upbeat Ike, Horikita’s thorny words made him stiffen . And then Yamauchi also started packing up . Finally, the worried Okitani also stood up, unable to go against the flow .
“E-everyone… Is this really ok?”
“Let’s go, Okitani . ”
Ike left the library with the hesitant Okitani .
The only ones remaining were me and Kushida . Even Kushida would probably leave soon .
“… Horikita-san, why didn’t you stop anyone from leaving…?”
“I was mistaken . Even if I got these guys to barely pass, this situation would repeat . And then they’d give up again . I finally realized that this was a waste of time and effort .
“What do you mean by that…?”
“I’m saying that it’s good to throw away all unnecessary trash now . ”
If the students with low grades weren’t here, then there would be no labor needed to teach them, and the average would also increase . She came to that conclusion .
“So that was it… H-hey, Ayanokouji-kun . Do you also think the same way?”
“If Horikita concluded that, then isn’t it fine?”
“A-ayanokouji-kun, do you think that?’
“Well, I don’t want them to quit, but since I’m not the one teaching them, I can’t do anything about it . In the end, I have a similar opinion to Horikita . ”
“… I see . ”
With a dark expression, Kushida got her bag and stood up .
“I’m going to do something about this . I don’t want everyone to separate so quickly . ”
“Kushida-san . Are those your true intentions?”
“… Is that bad? I can’t just abandon Sudou-kun, Ike-kun, and Yamauchi-kun . ”
“It doesn’t matter whether or not you say those are your true intentions . I don’t think that you truly want to help them . ”
“What are you talking about? I don’t know what you mean . Why do you make enemies with your cold words without hesitation? That’s… That’s sad . ”
Kushida hung her head .
“… See you two tomorrow . ”
After those short words, Kushida also left . In a flash, we were back to the two of us . The library was completely silent .
“That was troubling . With that, the study group is over . ”
“Looks that way . ”
The library’s silence felt ominous .
“Only you understood me . I guess you’re a bit better than those worthless fools . If you need me to teach you something right now, I can do it . ”
“I’ll decline . ”
“Are you returning home?”
“Sudou and the others are heading there . I’ll go chat with them . ”
“There’s no worth in talking to people who will drop out soon like them . ”
“I’m just simply trying to talk to my friends . ”
“How selfish . Calling them friends while you sit back and watch them get kicked out . From my point of view, that looks like the most cruel thing you can do . ”
Well, I can’t deny that . She didn’t say anything wrong .
In the end, studying is all about how well someone can motivate themselves .
“I’m not going to say you’re wrong . I also understand why you’d call someone who doesn’t like to study like Sudou stupid . But Horikita, isn’t it also important to imagine Sudou’s circumstances? If he was only aiming to become a basketball pro, then there’s not much for him at this school . Don’t you want to see why he chose this school?”
“… Not interested . ”
Brushing away my words, Horikita continued to look down at her textbook .