Chapter 5: Matsushita’s Suspicions
On April 3rd, as the spring break was coming to an end, I, Chiaki Matsushita, decided on something.
“Sure enough, this interests me.”
Starting from the end of year exam up to now, this feeling had been stuck in my heart.
That was caused by the existence of a classmate named Ayanokouji Kiyotaka.
Recently, I started to pay close attention to him. Still, if I told anyone else about it, they would probably say it was love, or a crush or something.
This was definitely not the case.
I could declare right here that it was definitely not love or something similar.
Instead, I started to be vigilant towards Ayanokouji-kun.
If I said that to any of my classmates, they’d probably tilt their heads in confusion.
But I’m already in the process of using my own method to obtain the answer.
To let you understand what I was feeling, first, I’ll need to introduce myself and talk about what kind of person I am.
I was born in a moderately wealthy family, and my parents were very kind to me and brought me up in an environment with no restrictions on my freedom.
They would buy whatever I desired, and in return, I also achieved outstanding results in school and tuition classes.
We established an excellent relationship with each other, as I respected their excellence, and they respected mine.
Moreover, I was blessed with an attractive appearance, although me saying that isn’t too good.
If someone else knew about all this, they’d probably be envious.
Growing up, experiencing various romantic relationships, and eventually marrying a financially capable man.
Although my life might not be the best, it would be considered a very lucky one.
Also, I had many outlooks for my future life.
Although I had considered various options, I reckoned working as a flight attendant at an international airline or in a major company wouldn’t be so bad.
However, since I managed to enter this school, I had to aim higher.
Studying abroad in a prestigious university, then working at an embassy, and then in the UN…I could gradually see that happening.
My life was going smoothly, and there was already a paved road ahead for a life without failure.
However, my first miscalculation was after I entered this school. Only if I graduated from Class A would I be able to have my desired future higher education and employment opportunities.
In other words, graduating from Class B or below would have no value.
Of course, I was pretty confident in my own abilities to secure the path towards my desired future.
But… graduating from Class B or below would prove to be an obstacle.
And it would be very likely that I would be labelled as “a student who has failed to graduate from Class A”, a label which would be a headache to deal with.
The large difference between the advantages and disadvantages of its impact in the future was a negative for me, who sought stability.
The next miscalculation was not being assigned to Class A. Instead, I’ve been assigned to Class D. This meant that I carried a very heavy disadvantage with me.
I wasn’t very worried when I first entered the school. However, it was that negligence which led to my downfall.
Within a month, our class points got depleted, and we immediately sank to the bottom of the rankings.
“Thinking about this calmly… there was still a chance back then…?”
Yes. Although we were initially placed in Class D, the starting point was the same for all classes.
If we had understood the situation during the first month, then we should’ve been able to rise to the upper classes.
Although it may be a terrible start, after one year, the class points have also increased.
There was a time where we even reached Class C. It was still possible to aim for the upper classes…
“No, that’s impossible.”
Even though I’d realized it from the beginning, the difference in base ability between the classes was even larger than I’d imagined. Sooner or later, the gap would inevitably widen.
It just so happened this year went so well. The gap in the abilities of my class compared to other classes was too large. If that fact didn’t change, the chances of reaching Class A were very close to 0.
Although I didn’t want to keep repeating this, I was confident that I was one of the top students in this grade.
If we looked at it from the bigger picture, I should be within the top 10% of the year. Despite that, I didn’t make a name for myself in Class D. Instead, I was somewhere near the middle of the hierarchy, only because I decided to hide my strength.
Of course, I wouldn’t hold the class back when it was important, but I didn’t like to stand out too much. In addition, my friend group consisted of people with considerably low abilities.
Half of the students in Class D belonged to the bottom 10~20% of this academic year.
If I carelessly showed my true abilities in that environment, others might start to feel jealous. I might also be excessively relied on, which would lead to all kinds of annoyances. This was something I wanted to avoid.
Moreover, even if I suddenly went all out for the class, our situation wouldn’t change by much. For better or worse, I was just an excellent student, but not a genius.
Besides, I wasn’t the type to act like someone who would take the initiative in things.
Although I wasn’t expecting to reap what I didn’t sow, I still really wanted to graduate from Class A.
If that was possible, I wanted to follow an easy route which led to a stable future.
In order to accomplish that, I needed to make all the students of Class D work twice as hard…
Looking back at the past year, I already reckoned it would be impossible, and half given up.
Indeed, there were some talented students in my class.
Like Horikita-san, Hirata-kun, and Kushida-san. There were also smart students like Yukimura-kun and Mii-chan.
But this was not enough. In fact, most of the students were holding us back. If you added it up, our class would still be in a negative state.
if there were just 2 or 3 more students on a similar level to the ones I mentioned earlier…how frustrating!
Yes——That was correct.
I was tormented by that thought until Ayanokouji-kun appeared right in front of my eyes.
Although this was just a one-sided conjecture, I suspected that Ayanokouji-kun might be the same type of person as me.
I’ve always felt, from the beginning that he just wanted a life that belonged to himself, which was the reason he entered this school.
Even compared to me, he did not have as much of a desire for success, and he didn’t care for the categorizations of Class A or Class D.
But despite that, he held great power.
If my guess was right…
Including me, Class D would have 2 more cards to play.
If that’s the case, depending on how active we were, it would determine whether if it was possible to aim for the upper classes.
Recently, these thoughts have been circling around my mind.
Why did I think he was that type of person?
Rather than say it was based on evidence, there were some things about him which stuck out.
Sometimes, Karuizawa-san would try to catch Ayanokouji-kun’s gaze, as well as there being a slight distance between them.
At first, I thought I was overthinking it, but right after, she suddenly broke up with Hirata-kun, which confirmed my suspicions.
She was attracted to Ayanokouji-kun.
Karuizawa-san, who thought dating a good man was a sign of high status, chose Ayanokouji-kun.
Why? Was it because he was handsome? No, I don’t think it’s that simple.
If that was the case, it would’ve been more convenient for Karuizawa-san to maintain her relationship with Hirata-kun, who was more popular.
So—— was it because Ayanokouji-kun had enough strength to make up for his lack of popularity?
That was the conclusion I reached.
If that’s the case, various things would astonishingly start to fall into place.
Ayanokouji-kun had a sort of relationship with the class leader Horikita-san, as well as one with Hirata-san. There was no doubt that both students thought highly of him. In addition to that, he also seemed to be close to Ichinose-san.
And previously, during the sports festival, there was his intense race against the student council president Horikita, now that I think of it, it was indeed strange.
In addition to that, Sakayanagi-san organized the entirety of Class A in order to give him protection points.
We thought he was randomly selected for Yamauchi-kun to be expelled, but after that when he took on the role of the commander tower and participated in the competition like that, calling it a coincidence to explain it would be way too lazy.
With so many of these pieces connected, the mysterious existence of Ayanokouji-kun should have been understood by everyone.
However, most students were not aware of this.
But that’s understandable because he basically never showed his true power in public. Although being able to run fast is an outstanding ability, with just this ability alone, only in primary school would he be able to climb up the hierarchy of the class.
For high school students…No, as you moved towards adulthood, communication skills would become more and more important.
Most students who held a high status often had both outstanding abilities and communication skills.
Lacking one of those skills would change completely change the impression you made on others.
He was just a student who ran really fast but had a weak presence. That’s the impression that many people had of Ayanokouji-kun.
If he also had good social skills, Ayanokouji-kun would be in a relatively higher position in the class.
Although it depended on his personality, he could’ve been, along with Hirata-san, one of the twin jewels of the class.
But this was nothing more than a hypothetical situation, or rather, complete nonsense.
It was like saying that if Sudo-kun is smart, or easy to get along with, or if Yukimura-kun had high athletic ability, those were things that could only happen in another dimension.
The highest priority for our class was “scholastic ability”, followed by “physical ability.”
It was very likely that Ayanokouji-kun met both of these requirements.
Moreover, Ayanokouji-kun’s abilities in those two categories might have even surpassed Hirata-kun’s, a buried treasure waiting to be dug out.
Of course, this thought was based a little on what I wanted him to be.
If he really was like that, then he would become a significant force which would be able to improve the class.
In reality, even if he was on the same level as me, I wouldn’t complain.
I met with Shinohara-san and Sato-san, the usual group.
During the spring break, we idly met up every day, to chat happily about various innocent topics.
Although I didn’t hate this, I did feel a little bored. I’ve been acting as a good student for the past year already, and I was seeking excitement.
As a result, I decided to bring up a more interesting topic with them.
“Shinohara-san, have you made any progress with Ike-kun?”
I intended to get rid of this boredom by poking her a little.
“Wait, ehhh!? Nonono, with him!?”
Shinohara-san hurriedly denied it, but this couldn’t conceal that she was shaken.
Sato’s gaze had a surprised “you really want to start this topic?” expression, mixed with a bit of excitement, was also very interesting.
It was evident that Shinohara-san and Ike-kun had gotten closer in the past few months, as rumours like this had already spread.
Although they tried to hide it, the school was a tiny place.
If a couple went on a date, they would be easily seen by others.
“I just thought that it was about time you told us, right?”
“I, I told you that it was impossible… Look, it’s Ike we’re talking about-? He’s the model for a typical loser!”
The words Shinohara-san used when denying this were indeed true. Just by looking at his attributes, he belonged in the lower ranks.
He was short, struggled academically, and he lacked communication skills. From my point of view, he was a person with an endless number of flaws. However, love couldn’t be measured from those factors.
There was always a possibility that a person would be attracted to a useless man, it was like unexpectedly finding yourself in the middle of a traffic accident.
And considering the status of Shinohara-san in the class, they might even be suitable for each other, and they’re not quite as different as she said.
“This isn’t so good, you like him, but he knows nothing about this.”
Sato-san’s eyes brightened at the fact we were talking about love, smiling towards Shinohara-san.
“Like I said, It’s not like that.”
“There’s no need to deny it, I just wanted to hear your true thoughts on this, right?”
Facing Shinohara, who wasn’t willing to admit it, I then used Sato-san to egg her on.
“Yeah, I’m also super interested! Tell us, tell us!!”
At times like this, it was convenient to get Satou-san to do what I wanted just by giving her simple hints. She wasn’t the type of person to think deeply. Needless to say, this had a negative effect on her academic ability.
Although it was a very harsh evaluation, I didn’t necessarily hate her.
Both Shinohara-san and Sato-san were close friends, and they were indispensable girl friends.
If they ever felt troubled, I would help them out and listen to them.
Of course, if they had the same ability to match me, then it would be even better.
Shinohara-san, who was completely unaware of what I was thinking, started to talk about her relationship with Ike-kun.
“Recently, I’ve always been arguing with him about stupid things. So honestly, there really isn’t much progress.”
Shinohara-san shook her head, sighing.
However, she never said that there was absolutely no development.
“After all, you both have personalities that aren’t so straightforward——If the same thing were to happen again, there’s going to be a change.”
Although they were a good match, there was always conflict between them regarding weird things.
I feel that as long as they turned past that, the relationship between the both of them would immediately be better.
“Enough about me, what about you, Matsushita-san? Do you like anyone?”
Shinohara-san asked such a question, just as I expected.
It would be more accurate to say that I led her to ask me this.
“You told us before that if you were to date anyone, it would be a senior.”
Looking as though having just remembered something, Sato-san jumped in on Shinohara-san’s question. No matter who was the subject of the conversation, as long as it was about relationships, it would be welcome. Girls were like that.
“Yeah. However——If he meets a certain condition, it’s fine even if he isn’t a senior.
Controlling what both of them would be thinking, and slowly leading the conversation into the direction I wanted. However, it’s not as hard as it might look. This happens commonly in everyday life. It was just about whether we realized it or not.
“Ohh——, so you’ve changed your mind?”
Sato-san, obviously wouldn’t let go of this topic, as it was her first time hearing about it.
“My standards haven’t lowered or anything. Both his appearance and personality should be first-class. And… his family background as well. I also want his parents to have received a high level of education and accomplishment.”
No matter how great their child’s achievements are, as long as their parents failed to live up to it, then they didn’t meet my standards.
“Someone who has a good family background… could it be someone like Koenji-kun, or the sort?”
Shinohara-san asked, dubiously.
“Ehh~? Although his looks are certainly not bad, isn’t he a little…?”
After hearing Koenji-kun’s name, Sato-san became a little hesitant. Koenji-kun’s evaluation within the class is considerably low. The reason was very simple, mainly because of his strange existence which is a nuisance to the class. However, you could say that there’s a big difference between his status within the class and outside of it.
From the perspectives of outsiders, Koenji-kun’s evaluation would be flawless, no matter if we were talking about his appearance or his background. He also had a very gentlemanly side. So it’s not surprising that girls across the school years are interested in him. In terms of academic ability, even though he didn’t take it seriously, you could still see the depths of his true power. You could say that he was a very rare person who met all my previously listed conditions. I think that Koenji-kun is ranked first within our class, if we’re talking about just ability.
However, other things are also clear when it comes to him.
He was not the type of person who could be persuaded to take action by other people.
A weirdo beyond imagination.
Since the beginning, I knew that trying to talk to him was useless, and futile.
In this case, compared to Sudo-kun and Ike-kun, he was even… No…you could say that he was the biggest burden to the class.
“Koenji-kun, not a chance. Speaking about this, I don’t consider him a human anymore.”
After hearing my evaluation of him, the two burst into laughter.
“If he gets serious, he will definitely surpass Hirata-kun in popularity, but I know that he definitely won’t get serious.”
This was my evaluation.
Shinohara-san and Sato-san wholeheartedly agreed with me.
He was the rare specimen who taught me that even if someone had just one flaw, their evaluation could go from 100 to 0 points.
Starting from the relationship between Ike-kun and Shinohara-san, to my ideal man, I proceeded to the next stage.
“Speaking of which, Sato-san, what about you and Ayanokouji-kun?”
“Eh…? Why, why ask me about this?”
After being asked an unexpected question, Sato-san stiffened.
Shinohara-san, who looked as if she had just remembered something, turned her gaze at Sato-san. During the winter break, Sato-san told us something. At that time, she told us about her love for Ayanokouji-kun, and wondering whether she should confess to him. Back then, just like with Ike-kun and Shinohara-san right now, I planned to just enjoy watching them progress, while supporting from a distance.
“It’s… it’s not like…”
Wanting to deny it, Sato-san then hesitated.
And when I noticed, Satou-san had come to an abrupt stop when talking about Ayanokouji-kun.
Of course, with regards to what this meant, Shinohara-san and I did not approach this topic, knowing clearly what it meant.
He probably rejected her, or had a change of heart. In short, as long as Sato-san didn’t intend to speak, we had to be careful to not talk about this topic.
However, if I wanted to know more about Ayanokouji-kun, this wasn’t something I could avoid.
“Can… Can you two keep this a secret?”
Shinohara-san and I, sure that we were going to hear something extremely interesting, each patted one of her shoulders.