Classroom of the Elite Y2V6 Chapter 3 Part 5
Ever since last week, my daily life started to change significantly. The Ayanokouji group hasn’t met even once. Even today, with Haruka having come to school, there hasn’t been any change from – no, return from that fact.
Now that the meetings that felt natural before had stopped, the way I spend time at school has changed completely. During our ten-minute breaks, I would either spend time by myself or talk with Kei. Sometimes, I might chat with some classmates like Sudou or Matsushita, but my chances to talk with Akito or Keisei have clearly diminished.
Though this lifestyle felt off at first, my body slowly began to accept and get used to it. I go through the same cycle during our afternoon breaks, but if Kei goes to eat with her friends or something like that I head to the library. That remained the break where I could rest alone. However, it seems that Hiyori hasn’t been coming to the library recently, so it’s a bit of a shame that we haven’t been able to discuss any books.
In addition, the flow of this chain of events continued even after school. As for today, Kei had already messaged me that she’d hang out with her friends and go home, so I had no special plans. If I thoughtlessly lingered around school, I’d add onto Haruka’s current emotional burden, so I decided to quickly head back to the dorm. However, an unexpected development occurred when someone saw me doing that.
“Kiyopon, do you have some time?”
I hadn’t expected Haruka to make contact with me, but she approached me as I was in the hallway trying to leave. Her voice contained a forcefulness that showed she didn’t actually care whether or not I had time. Her objective in coming to school for the first time in a week was probably to make contact with me in a public location. Without even looking back to check her expression, I answered frankly.
“If it’s necessary, I’ll make time.”
To feel her out, I tried to come off as if I had plans, but…
“Then make some. That’s fine, right?” She showed no sign of holding back that forcefulness in her voice. “I already talked to Horikita-san. I’ll go ahead and wait at the cafe in Keyaki Mall.”
Saying only those words, Haruka left the classroom. Immediately after, Akito came this way as if following after Haruka.
“Was she always intending on coming to school to talk to me?” I said.
“I’m not sure… this is my first time hearing of it. That’s why I’m not sure what she wants to talk about. But, depending on how it goes, I don’t think I’ll be able to be on your side.”
Akito apologized, although I would be troubled if he wasn’t there for Haruka as her ally.
Leaving the conversation short enough to not draw suspicion, Akito as well as Keisei left the classroom. I suppose she has gathered all the members of the Ayanokouji Group and called Horikita as well. Of course, it’s certain that our discussion would be about Airi’s expulsion. Horikita waited for those three to leave before she approached me.
“I checked if she’d be fine with just me, but she said you were absolutely essential and didn’t listen to me at all.”
She was taking care to try and solve the problem by herself, but well, this time the circumstances were different.
We left the classroom together and headed to the cafe Haruka had specified. Before we went into a heavy conversation, I decided to wrap up something I had on my mind.
“You seemed to have succeeded at bringing Kushida back to school. I’m honestly impressed.”
“She has technically returned for the time being. However, there’s still many things that are uncertain. Things won’t be the same as before.”
“But still, we couldn’t wish for a better development than that at this point.”
Even her style of speaking had changed drastically, but it’s safe to say that Kushida had come back with nearly the best answer to make the class run smoothly from now on. Horikita’s advice was without a doubt part of how she reached that answer. The tough part would be keeping to a minimum the information leaking to the other classes. Even if it became widely known someday, it was entirely possible that the passage of time would have faded some of it.
“How did you convince her? I can’t imagine her becoming obedient from just a good plan.”
While the eventual destination was the declaration she’d made today, there must have been twists and turns before she got there. If anything, that was what I was interested in, but Horikita’s facial expression looked complicated.
“I treated her like a kid unbecoming of her age. To the point where I don’t want to talk about it.”
Seeing that she avoided talking about any specifics, I guess she really did stuff she didn’t want to talk about. It didn’t seem like she’d answer even if I pressed the matter harder, so I had no choice but to give up.
“However, given who you were dealing with, that may have been the right choice.”
Perhaps recalling some detail, she rubbed her cheek with her left hand and answered.
“Anyway, it took a week but we’ve managed to gather everyone in the class.”
“Speaking of which, it seems the trouble with the girls has also calmed down.”
Yousuke said that he would rely on Horikita, so she without a doubt took part in that as well.
“For the matter with Shinohara-san and the others, Hirata-kun took the lead and brought them all to Keyaki Mall on Sunday.”
“You were present as well?”
I pretended I didn’t know anything about it and responded as if I never imagined it could happen.
“Yes. On top of that, they agreed to let the bad-mouthing be water under the bridge. Shinohara-san was against it for a while, but Ike-kun calming her down was a big help.” Even from Horikita’s way of speaking, I can tell that Ike is fulfilling his role as a boyfriend. She continued, “A lot of students sure are growing up while we’re not looking.”
“You don’t seem happy about it.”
“I think I’m happy. It’s just that because of that, I feel pathetic in comparison. When I think about whether I’ve managed to grow myself… I feel anxious.”
It’s easy to appraise others, but judging oneself is difficult. If you want to be optimistic, you can judge yourself generously. If you want to be strict, you can judge yourself harshly.
“Someday, a third party would be able to give you that answer.”
The first thing is to pour her energy into getting the class back on its feet, since her own evaluation will come on its own after that.
“We couldn’t get a hold of Wan-san, but it looks like you helped her out. Thanks.”
“I just gave her a bit of advice. Even if I hadn’t done anything, someone would have helped her out.”
“Even if it was just one day, you’re to thank for her faster return. This time, too, I’ve been saved by many people. I feel like the fact that I can’t do anything on my own was once again thrown at my face.”
What she was saying was depressing, but if anything her tone was cheerful.
“Oh yeah. I want you to send a message to Student Council President Nagumo.”
“Me? You’re constantly using me as the middleman. Well, it’s fine. What should I tell him?”
“Just tell him that I accept his proposal.”
“… Accept his proposal?”
“He’ll understand if you relay just that.”
“Alright. I’ll be going to the student council room after this, so I’ll tell him what you just told me.”
I’m still deciding if I’m going to participate in this year’s Sports Festival. But the one week time limit has already passed, so I must at least reply to him that I’ve accepted. If I don’t challenge Nagumo to some kind of duel sometime, he probably won’t be satisfied.
“What remains is the problem with Hasebe-san. I honestly can’t tell what we’re going to talk about – I can’t read her.”
“From how she was today, I wouldn’t be surprised no matter what she throws at us.”
“It does seem better to not be naive about this.”
Mii-chan and Kushida overcame their challenges and came to school. However, Haruka is different. It’s likely that from here on out, she will become an obstacle and stand in our way.
“While I was waiting to meet with Kushida-san, I also checked on Miyake-kun and Yukimura-kun many times.” So she was watching out for not just Shinohara and the others, but also the members of the Ayanokouji group. “The one who bore the most difficult feelings during the special exam was Hasebe-san. It’s necessary to follow up with her.” Despite that, the reason why Horikita didn’t look so cheerful as she walked beside me was probably that she didn’t achieve anything out of it. “We met at her doorway, but we couldn’t talk about anything. Miyake-kun had asked me to let her be, so I’d kept an eye on things for the past week.”
Is she talking about today? Haruka coming to school must have been outside of expectations for Horikita as well.
“In the end, Akito succeeded at convincing her and managed to bring her with him to school – and that’s the end of that chapter.” I said.
“It would be good if that was it… but that’s not the case.”
Given that she’d called the two of us out like this, we naturally thought something was up.
From now on, let’s work hard together! – as if.
“In that situation, I was the one who nominated Airi and cornered her. It’s fine if you just listen to our conversation.”
“I can’t do that. I was of the same opinion, so I am equally responsible. No, the reason all this happened was because I broke my promise. I have to accept everything.”
Compared to then, it looks like she’s managed to regain her composure, but being too eager was also a cause for concern.
“Haruka is important, but it’s also necessary to change your mindset and look towards the Sports Festival.”
We’ve already spent a week trying to solve our class problems. In that time, Classes like A had already started preparing to win at the Sports Festival, so we couldn’t afford to fall behind.
“You’re right. Of course, I’ve been thinking well about how to fight in the Sports Festival. I think I’ve figured it out to some extent.”
While backing up Kushida or Shinohara and the others, she didn’t overlook that part.
“Then I’ll ask. What’s your goal for the Sports Festival?”
I tried asking Horikita her objective.
“It goes without saying─we’re aiming for first place. No, we will definitely take first place. We have to.”
From the profile of her face gazing forwards, you could see confidence peeking through.
“It’s not a bad thing to set your sights high; we don’t lose to anyone else in terms of manpower. Have you thought of a strategy? There’s the battle between whole school years, but fundamentally, the fight for our cumulative points within the same year will be the focus. Sakayanagi and Ryuuen will be implementing strategies you haven’t even thought of.”
“If one doesn’t complete five events, then all of their points will be forfeit. Considering Ryuuen, it wouldn’t be weird if he was aiming to feign an accident during the competition, injure someone and have them removed due to that.”
Just like Horikita was targeted last year, it wouldn’t be strange for Ryuuen to choose the kind of methods one would call cowardly. If it were Sakayanagi, she would probably look at those participating in the competition and guide her classmates with the most appropriate arrangements.
“Considering all possibilities, what hand do you intend to play?”
“To be specific, it’ll be a frontal attack. Sudou-kun and Onodera-san will make a bundle for us, and students like Kushida and me will also steadily earn points. We’ll just do what’s necessary to win.”
“There’d be no trouble if we could win with that, but our class having only 38 people is also a handicap.”
Horikita immediately nodded. Her response indicated that she’d accounted for that.
“That’s why I’ve decided to take one single risk. I’m in the middle of preparations for that now.”
“For a more detailed conversation, perhaps you’ll come with me after school tomorrow?”
“Do you mean you want me to help with something?”
“No. It’ll be enough if you come along and listen to the conversation. And after that, I just want you to objectively assess whether or not there’s value in taking that risk and tell me.”
“Are you really fine with just that?”
“I can’t have you coddle me again and again, like last time.”
Since she’s already thought about this to some extent, she doesn’t need any suggestions or advice. If that’s the case, I’ll look forward to the strategy Horikita is thinking of for the Sports Festival.
“Got it. I’ll hear you out tomorrow after school.”
When we finally arrived at the cafe, the three members of the Ayanokouji group were waiting at their seats. It didn’t seem like they’d been chatting, and three drinks were placed out in vain. If we wanted to use the store, we needed to get at least one drink. One by one, we randomly picked drinks and headed to our seats.
“Sit down.” As soon as we arrived, Haruka urged us to sit in the two empty seats. “While I was away, you seemed to have wanted to talk to me several times, so I thought I’d ask about that.” Haruka dispassionately opened with that, with her gaze directed towards neither me nor Horikita. I think she was asking that to both of us, but the focus was obviously on Horikita. “What did you want to talk about?”
“In a way, the problem has already been solved. You’d been absent from school for several days.”
“So you were worried. Our class evaluation may drop, after all.”
“Of course that’s not everything. You must have had a good reason for being absent for a week, right?”
“I wasn’t feeling well. I told that to the school, so there shouldn’t be any problems? Miyacchi told me that we may receive a penalty if I’m out more than a week, so I came to school today.”
Is there a problem with that? Haruka’s body language said, while she still showed no emotion.
“Certainly. However, the reason you skipped school wasn’t because you weren’t feeling good.”
“How can you say that’s the case? I could simply have been sick, right?”
Without denying anything, Horikita brought her cup to her mouth. Was she absent because she wasn’t feeling well, or was that not the case? That’s nothing more than the step before the problem. With how Horikita answered, there’s no way that she was satisfied.
“You seem to have your doubts, but I really wasn’t feeling well. It wasn’t an injury or sickness though. Waking up was emotionally difficult, I couldn’t sleep, and simply took off from school.”
Akito and Keisei appear to be listening calmly, but that’s not the case. Though they are suffering in the same fashion, they understand that their suffering is a far cry from Haruka’s. Thus they have no choice but to be quiet and listen.
“Could you stop beating around the bush and say what you want to say?”
Rather than becoming deferential, Horikita got more assertive. It would be normal for that attitude to have the opposite effect, but Haruka doesn’t seem bothered by it. I got the strong impression that she’d sealed her emotions deep in her heart. Horikita, who was sitting next to me, probably gave that excessive reaction because she felt the same thing.
“Are you satisfied that you gained class points during the special exam?”
“I’m not satisfied. There’s still a gap of more than 500 points between us and Class A. Moreover, striving for Class A without losing anyone if possible was my ideal… my vision. However, talking about those things is meaningless at this point.”
No one wants to expel someone else. Amidst the fighting, I simply nominated Airi for an unavoidable reason. We’ve already finished confirming that.
“My dear friend was sacrificed due to your selfish judgment. Are you aware of that, Horikita-san?”
For the first time today, the things that Haruka has been wanting to say came spilling out.
For the more than a week that had passed since the end of the special exam, Horikita faced her decision and continued to fight. That’s something you would understand by observing her every day, even without listening to her face-to-face. Of course, that’s something of no concern to Haruka. She won’t forgive her just because she was trying her best; she won’t forgive her just because she produced results.
“What a fine leader. You don’t question the methods you take in order to make your class win.”
“I still have ways to go.”
“Do you understand that I was being sarcastic?”
“Of course I understand.”
“Where did your original promise to cut off the traitor – the student who kept pressing “agree” – go?”
“Regarding that, I think my foresight was inadequate. However, so long as we can’t make it as if the special exam from the other day never happened, we have no choice but to keep living on.”
“There are mistakes that can’t be forgiven.”
“I won’t deny that. It’s as you say.”
“Even if having Kyou-cha– Kushida-san remain in the class was the right choice?”
“It’s because I deemed it to be the right choice that I had the resolve to keep her in the class, taking on the animosity from everyone else. This is getting redundant.”
“Ah, I see.”
Horikita wasn’t backing down, so Haruka made her manner of speaking a bit more aggressive.
“I don’t intend to give a poor apology. No matter how much I apologize, it’s a fact that I changed my opinion and judged that Kushida-san should remain in the class. It’s natural for you to resent me, and one day I may receive painful retaliation. However, I decided that the person who can become fighting strength for our class was Kushida. I have gradually become certain of that.”
“Even if Kushida-san is an outstanding student, there are others who have no abilities. There was no need for it to be her.” The person we should have cut off was someone else. Horikita hadn’t reached that conclusion, so in front of her Haruka continued. “I won’t accept it. No matter how many people approve of you from here on out, I will never accept it.”
Maintaining that position as long as she possessed her feelings, Haruka showed no sign of forgiving her.
“I have no choice but to try hard so that you’ll approve of me then.”
“I just said that I don’t approve of you.”
“The one responsibility for expelling Sakura-san lies with me. Yes, I won’t deny that. I can’t deny that. On the other hand, what should I do? Are you going to tell me from here on to quit school?” Even if she did that, it doesn’t mean that Airi would come back. That action would make the 100 class points that remained from her taking the initiative for the sake of the class also disappear into nothing. “Perhaps you want me to get down on my knees? Would you feel better with that?”
A strong will. The will to not lose. That’s how it may have seemed, but that wasn’t the case. Horikita is struggling. Though she’s struggling, she’s putting up a front and facing Haruka. While sitting next to her, I was able to peer at the real intent behind her shaking eyes.
“Give Airi back.”
“… I can’t fulfill a request that can’t be done.”
“That’s all I wish for. I don’t care what happens to the class.” She grabbed a few strands of her own hair and pulled them out with all her might. “The decision from that time was wrong.”
“If you’re dissatisfied, then perhaps you should have fought.” Right after letting loose what was almost a taunt, Horikita followed up with a finishing blow. “But that’s a pointless conversation. Even if you had fought, you had no means to resist us, after all.”
“I suppose so. Certainly, there’s not much that the likes of me could have done. Kiyopon used Airi’s feelings and cornered her without mercy. That kind of behavior is something that a normal person absolutely couldn’t have done.” Here for the first time, she sent a scornful look in my direction. However, since she seemed to have no intent on talking to me, she left it at that and turned her gaze back to Horikita. “Is Kushida-san really going to work for the sake of the class? She’s bound to betray you.”
“If Kushida-san drags us down moving forward, I’ll regret it.”
There’s indeed no guarantee that Kushida will definitely be of use to our class. If Horikita makes a mistake in her leadership after this point, then there may come a day where she regrets her choice to get rid of Airi.
“However, even if I were to go to the past with my memories as I am now, what I would most likely do wouldn’t change much. I would repeat my decision to save Kushida-san and choose Airi to be expelled. If I were to make just one change, I wouldn’t have carelessly made a promise.”
She stated that she would make no changes to her decision.”
“Why? Why Airi?”
Even if she’s silent she’ll probably give an answer, but I decided to mention my opinion here.
“The issue is how we think about things. The events this time around have become a strong stimulus for the students whose names are lowest on the OAA. If they continue to fly low like this, then they may become the next ones to be expelled. Even just them possessing a stronger sense of danger can be thought of as a plus.”
That’s also a part of my role as the one who nominated Airi.
“It’s as if we’re like Ryuuen’s class. Throwing away people without any abilities?”
“I wonder about that. I’m not sure what principles Ryueen goes by, but it’s a fact that it’s close to his reigning with fear in some sense. Our class policy up until now has been vague and too weak.”
“It kind of reminds me of when we started school. It’s the same as when we all acted on our own and had not a shred of cohesiveness.”
She can say it resembles it, but it’s something different that simply looks similar.
“The situation from that time was different. Preventing avoidable expulsions before they happen is important, but keeping those who we have to expel to a minimum was the issue at hand this time around.”
Haruka raised her voice here for the first time.
“It’s because Horikita felt the possibility of the benefits gained upon Kushida becoming an ally greatly outweighing Airi’s that she reached that conclusion. It’s also because I saw that future that I respected her opinion and threw her a lifeline.”
Fundamentally, you can never find a definitive future. We can only act towards grasping a future that we see and imagine. People aren’t all-powerful.
“Even though Airi disappeared, the class returned to their everyday lives before I knew it.”
“I understand your discontent, but did you think the same things when Yamauchi-kun was expelled?”
“He got what he deserved. It’s different this time around.”
“It’s the same. You’re just mad that one of your friends was sacrificed.”
“What’s so wrong about that?” There’s no clear goal for this back-and-forth. Strictly speaking, there’s no hint at solving this aside from Haruka backing down. “I can’t accept that kind of reality. I can’t come to terms with it.” And if Haruka won’t yield, then a big problem lies ahead waiting for us. “Kushida-san indeed may have been a threat. She may now have a change of heart and work for the class from here on out. However, do you seriously think I’ll look at that and cooperate?”
“You have a point. When you were out for a whole week, it felt like you would become a long-term problem more so than anyone else.” There was a need to deal with Kushida quickly, but Horikita says that Haruka was resolved for the long haul. After losing Airi in the exam, Haruka was unafraid of anything. “However, you came to school. If you wanted to go out of your way to talk to me, you could’ve done so while continuing to stay absent. Isn’t that right?”
It’s unlikely, but if Haruka changed her attitude herself and came to school, it would be a welcome turn of events. However, the world isn’t so simple.
“I still haven’t come up with an answer so I simply tried coming here.”
“I came to school to look for the answer I couldn’t find while holed up inside my room.”
Akito cast his eyes downwards after hearing those words.
“What should I do to achieve revenge against Horikita-san and Kiyopon? I’m searching for that answer.”
This was the coldest thing Haruka had said yet. The words that came out of her dry lips weren’t in the same league as a threat or a bluff.
“… You’re serious, aren’t you?”
Horikita also noticed the weight of those words.
“I wanted to tell you today: I will make you regret expelling Airi.”
Haruka left her seat, leaving her drink on the table. Akito, too, went after her, hoping to catch up to her.
Horikita wasn’t the only one whose jaw had dropped. Keisei shared her surprise.
“I don’t think either of you, Horikita or Haruka, are wrong. It might seem unfair, but those are my honest thoughts. At the end of the day, so long as I survive it’s alright, that’s at the core of it.”
Keisei was ashamed of himself, but he didn’t attempt to hide the truth and told it to us.
“Everyone’s like that. It isn’t strange to want to save yourself.” Horikita said.
“That’s why I can’t understand Haruka’s feelings just now. But despite that, I don’t think I have the right to tell her to stop. Even if it ends up causing trouble for the class.” Keisei weakly struck the table with his fist before getting up. “The group is half broken now. But still, I will be useful to the class as myself. While I might not do well in the Sports Festival, in turn I will study more and more to contribute to the class. If I don’t… I wouldn’t be able to rule out the possibility that I’ll get thrown out.”
While he was good at academics, Keisei held us back when it came to sports or social contributions. It was clear that he would be playing at a disadvantage if it came down to how many friends one had.