After all that, I didn’t feel like playing around and spent my time feeling gloomy in my room. I finished my 6 o’clock dinner, and in no time at all, it was just before 8pm.
“I guess I should go…”
If I could choose again right now whether to go or not, I would choose “I’m not going” right away.
It wasn’t a particularly welcome invitation, but if I really didn’t want to go, I should have refused without hesitation. This was all because I gave such a half-hearted response, so I guess I have no choice but to live with my mistake.
I was determined, but...when I arrived in front of room 5034, I just stood there.
A minute had already passed since I first arrived here.
I was going to knock, but I could hear the occasional sounds of girls talking and laughing from inside the room.
The presence of any boys...could not be felt at all right now.
I can only have a bad feeling about this.
I’m not sure why, but I feel like I’m starting to sweat.
What I am sure of, is that I’m more nervous now than I was when I had to face Tsukishiro during the uninhabited island exam.
“No, wouldn’t it be wiser to just turn around now?”
The whisper of a devil leaked out in a throaty voice.
Wouldn’t I take less damage if I just said I forgot and apologized later?
That could work, but I would like to avoid being branded as a person who breaks his promises.
What on earth should I do…?
I was in a bind and felt like I couldn’t move when the spell was suddenly broken by an unexpected interruption.
“Oh, You came!”
It was Kobashi who appeared from down the hall.
I don’t know if it's just bad timing or what…
In Kobashi’s hand was a large plastic bag filled with snacks and small bottles of juice.
Once I was spotted, running away was no longer an option.
“I think everyone’s here, so don’t hesitate and come in.”
“Y-yeah... I was just about to.”
Escape was no longer allowed.
The door that I had felt was too heavy to open, was opened easily, without hesitation by Kobashi.
Is it really okay to open it so easily? I wanted to prepare myself a little more...
As I was thinking that , the only barrier that separated me from the guest room was being removed.
Rather than sight, the first of my senses to be stimulated was smell.
There was a sweet aroma in the air, like flowers or honey.
And right after that, a girl’s, or more accurately, several girls' eyeballs caught sight of me.
“Ta-da! I brought Ayanokouji-kun!”
It was a four person room, so it wasn’t exactly spacious, with girls spread out sitting all over the place.
What is this world in front of me?
1, 2, 3...with Kobashi included, there were 10 of them in total.
In other words, half of the girls in Ichinose’s class were here.
Moreover, there was not the slightest hint of any boys, which almost made me feel like I had been betrayed and brought into a trap.
“Hey, that’s not a very nice way of saying you brought Nino-chan along~!”
“Really? Oh, I bought what you asked for~”
She placed the plastic bag on a small table near the bed of this small room.
What’s up with this fluffy, light-hearted gathering?
It was definitely a little different to Kei and her group of girls.
Most of the members participating are girls that I have never spoken to before, but I remember their names and faces from the OAA app.
I was so taken aback by the sight that I couldn’t move, and I felt Kobashi tap my back lightly.
“Then, I wonder where we should put Ayanokouji-kun~? Oh, would it be okay next to Honami-chan?”
Sure enough, Ichinose is the person I am closest to out of everyone here, so it was understandable that she would be chosen without hesitation.
I don’t think there was any choice to be made in the first place due to how small the room is...However, it seems like she never intended to give me the right to decide anyway.
The only strange thing was that despite the fact that there were 10 people in the room, there was enough space for a boy to sit next to Ichinose right from the beginning.
In other words, it wasn’t a coincidence that there was a space there, but most likely a predetermined move.
I thought back to when Kobashi invited me in the afternoon and compared it to previous converstations...I’m not sure that doing something like this is going to help in the current situation.
In any case, standing here like this with 10 people staring at me will only make me uncomfortable, so I hurriedly excused myself from the other girls and went over to Ichinose.
“...May I sit here?”
“O-of course you can.”
Hearing her brief reply, I sat down next to Ichinose, but everyone's attention was still on me.
Or perhaps it would be better to say that everyone besides Ichinose, Kobashi and a student named Himeno, were watching me carefully, as if evaluating me.
No, I need to stay calm and keep a low profile. Then, when the timing is right, I should be able to slip out quietly.
Kobashi poured some tea into a clear cup and handed it to me.
As soon as everyone had their drinks, Amikura, who seemed to be the one hosting this get-together, spoke up.
“So, without further ado...We’re having a party to celebrate our hard work during the uninhabited island exam and also to thank Ayanokouji for helping Chihiro-chan when she was lost. Cheers!”
Hearing these words, everyone raised their cups.
“Well, first of all, thank you Ayanokouji-kun. I really appreciate your help from that time.”
It was Shiranami, who was sitting to Ichinose’s left, that spoke up to thank me.
I haven’t really done anything to deserve these repeated thanks.
For now, I just nodded my head slightly, as I couldn’t further the conversation.
Personally, I’d like to say that the party was in full swing, but unfortunately only about ten minutes had passed, when Shiranami suddenly faced my direction with a serious expression.
“What is it…?”
She clenched her hand around her can of orange juice, as if to motivate herself to say something.
“I’m grateful to you for your help...But I just can’t accept it yet.”
Without elaborating, Shiranami left it at that and squeezed the orange juice down her throat.
“Pfft! I can’t say any more!”
No, no, what are you talking about…?
I was left behind, and the people around Shiranami showered her with words of encouragement and praise, saying she had done well and worked hard.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, Shiranami was acting awfully embarrassed. Seriously, what are you talking about?
However, when you’re an outsider, you can’t ask a question like that in return.
At the beginning of the celebration, Shiranami mentioned me, but after that, the girls started talking about their own problems. I just sat there watching their conversation unfold, meek as a lamb.
Of course, if you were to ask me if I was comfortable, the answer would be a resounding no.
At any rate…
It was amazing how the girls' conversation progressed, with new topics coming up one after the other.
The topic of conversation, regardless of genre, was as busy as an airplane flying around Japan.
However, no matter the topic, there was one thing in common.
That’s because most of these girls centre their lives around Ichinose, having great trust and a blind faith towards her.
Ichinose Honami is unquestionably the most trustworthy student among the 2nd years.
This is true regardless of whether you are a friend or foe.
The criteria for what constitutes trustworthiness depends on the individual, but I would like to think that trust is something that is built up on a daily basis. No one would trust a student who had never spoken before if they suddenly said “trust me”.
However, there’s a difference between being trusting and being delusional.
Because even if Ichinose is a trustworthy person, there are times when she will make the wrong decision.
If you continue to trust a person that keeps making wrong decisions, you will not see any results.
There is always a need for students who can point out when something is wrong in order to correct it.
“Can I have a moment?”
As the girls’ excitement peaked, one of the girls, who had so far only shown the occasional gesture, raised her hand.
“What’s the matter, Yuki-chan?”
“The usual headache. Sorry, but I’m feeling tired, so can I go back to my room? I feel really heavy.”
Normally, I wouldn't have paid any attention to such a simple throwaway statement, but I was surprised by the tone of her voice.
This is because Ichinose’s class is basically filled with polite, decent students.
Himeno revealed that she was not feeling well and wished to go back to her room.
“Of course, should I go with you?”
Ichinose and the other girls, hearing about their friend's condition, hurriedly called out to Himeno.
“Ah, it’s fine, it’s fine. I’m not a child...”
Himeno stood up, looking fed up with their overprotective behaviour.
So there was a student like this in Ichinose’s class huh?
As I recall, all of the people in Himeno Yuki’s group during the uninhabited island exam were from the same class.
Anyway, the atmosphere preventing me from leaving seemed to have changed slightly.
At this point, I decided to take my chances and follow after Himeno.
“Well then, I guess I’d better get going.”
“Eh, you’re leaving already? You could’ve stayed way longer.”
“No, I was only planning to show my face briefly, besides, I have plans to meet up with someone later.”
If I told them I had plans, Ichinose and the others wouldn’t try to hold me back.
“Well, then I’ll see you later, Ayanokouji-kun.”
With Ichinose and the other girls sitting pretty, I got up and left the room.