Chapter 5: Classes Gathering
"It’s so hot today…"
I don’t know how many times I have uttered these words this summer. Nevertheless, it can’t be helped that hot things will stay that way. Even though it gets even hotter just by saying it, we still need to. Just complaining within yourself will endlessly increase the pent-up stress. The only ones rejoicing the intense heat would probably be the cicadas. Speaking of which, this time I ended up being dragged into an unusually rare event. Though I use the word event, just knowing the details of it may stir up a strong sense of antagonism in male students, probably. However, there is also trouble mixed in as well. Well, let’s start from the beginning.
A little distance from the dorm, there was a road lined with trees on both sides leading up to the school. If you went off-road, you could reach a rest area. Right now, I was standing there. There was several benches and vending machines set up. The view from this place was also good. No wonder there was a never-ending flow of students here during early spring. This was a perfect place for a little break or some idle talk. However, right now it was deserted, with nobody in sight. It’s could say it’s due to the heat. It was the rare off-season for students. That is also why it’s the most suitable place to hold a secret meeting.
"Kept you waiting."
Sitting at the bench, the person I was waiting for was walking from the direction of the dorm. Blocking out the harsh sun with her hand, she was looking up at the sky.
Leaking out the same impression I have, the Class D student, Karuizawa Kei sat down next to me. Her long ponytail shook. Her clothing were an unusually casual jeans and a simple shirt. Nevertheless, it didn’t feel shoddy at all even for a weekend. From what I could see, they were chosen to match her so she looked really nice in them. No matter how hot it was, style was still number one for girls so it must be hard.
"Sorry for taking up your time with this sudden call."
"You sarcastic? I have used up too many points having fun during summer vacation already so I‘ve only been in my room lately for your info."
"Do you have plans for tomorrow?"
"You can’t do anything without money after all. Probably just sleeping?"
Her summer must have been a really self-indulgent one.
"You should get a lot of points next month right, there is also the results from that exam."
During the exam which took place on that boat, Karuizawa, who was chosen as VIP, collaborated with me and managed to hide her identity until the end. She should be getting 500.000 points as a reward at the start of September for that.
"Well sure. That’s why I’ve bought all the clothing and the accessories I wanted. But, is it okay just spending all the points like that? Isn’t better to save some?"
"You have enough self-control then?"
I asked a bit mischievously. She puffed up her cheeks then glared at me.
"That is… not easy. Whenever I end up spending them, they last less that one week I guess."
Karuizawa raised her hands, counting down the things she wanted with her fingers. All her fingers were bent down in no time at all. How many things did she wish for again?
"It’s not that I’m not thinking at all you know. Even I know how precious the private points are. The school system is kinda weird right. You receive like exaggeratedly many points during the special exams. The others are also perplexed about it."
I see, it seems the suspicion has finally spread among the regular students. If you receive large amounts of money, of course you will be wary. Asking themselves why the school would do this. Then they will understand. That these points are not only used to fulfil one’s private desires or benefits.
"Yeah, suddenly giving out 1-2 million points worth of money."
"That’s it, is it fine handing over so much money to high schoolers? That’s definitely not normal."
Most of the points will probably be necessary to "survive" at this school. Having realised this, Karuizawa was hesitating on whether it was fine to spend them from now on. This is just an example but if you were in a situation where you would be expelled, there may be an implied chance that one could use those private points to nullify it. Following this, having a few million points as insurance couldn’t be underestimated.
"There’s no use thinking too much over this. Thinking too far ahead and forgetting to satisfy one’s desires is also bad. It’s enough if you save 10-20% of your monthly points."
It was important to maintain a balance between desire and moderation else you will break. Especially for Karuizawa who had been spending her points freely until now. Sealing her desires so suddenly was bad, I judged. There is also the fact that if her daily life suddenly changed, her surroundings may also be affected. If a girl who had been scattering money started living in frugality, her class may get suspicious. She may have a connection with me but it’s still far too early to let others know.
"Well then, there is one thing I want to request of you."
"… You don’t have an apology for someone you called out on this hot day?"
"Is this fine?"
I handed her a plastic bottle with tea that I just bought, but still yet had to drink. She hesitated a little, but took it reluctantly in the end.
"It’s lukewarm though…"
"Well, we have this weather to thank for that."
It seems the most affected areas already had recorded temperatures over 40 degrees. I’m getting sweaty just from hearing the digits. Thirsty, the displeased Karuizawa opened the bottle.
"Ugh, this one is a loser."
"A loser? I’m sure teas don’t include lotteries with it?"
"That joke’s no fun you know? I meant how hard it’s to open."
I see… That was certainly not a fun misunderstanding. Stretching out my hands, I took the bottle and twisted the cap a bit, then handed it back to her.
After that incident on the boat, the distance between me and Karuizawa had been shortened. Otherwise, this was a conversation unheard of. The events leading up to this had surely made her discontent and distrustful towards me, but she didn’t show much of it. She was familiar with controlling herself. That meant she was doing whatever she could to protect herself no matter what and adapting to her environment.
"Tomorrow is the last day of summer vacation. A friend of mine wanted to create some summer memories so I was invited."
"What do you mean by summer memories? This school doesn’t have fireworks, festivals or anything right?"
"They should have a pool at least. The swimming club usually has the privilege to use it, but that has been lifted from today on you know?"
It was a pool even larger than the one being used during school lessons. For the last three days of the summer vacation, it was transformed to a community pool that everyone could use. After the first day where a crowd of students rushed for the pool, entry was being regulated. During these three days, you could only enter only once. The first two days were over, crowded even today.
"Ah, now that you mention it. But I’m not interested in swimming though."
Karuizawa had been continually feigning illness during swimming lessons. Though it may be a school using a point based system making skipping classes hard, they couldn’t look into the health issues of the student, especially the ambiguous issues of girls. Thus the girls were refusing lessons constantly, except for Karuizawa who was always absent. Their reasons for not swimming were varied. Feeling ill, not wanting others to know that one aren’t able to swim, hating swimming, not wanting to show skin to the opposite sex, bad style etc. Most of them were using these kind of excuses. However, for Karuizawa, the reason differed. Thinking of this problem, she was facing the other way drinking her tea. She had been cruelly bullied by students from the other class earlier receiving a bruise on her side. The bruise still hurt from time to time. If seen, she would surely be getting a lot of attention.
"Do you like swimming itself?"
"Hmm-… I don’t hate it I think. I haven’t swum for years so I may have forgotten how to."
She vaguely responded. But I could see that this wasn’t her true feelings.
"So, you guys want to create some memories at the pool? Just aiming for some erotism?"
I can’t deny that. No, that is actually the whole reason I think.
"So, what does that have to do with me?"
"Before that— let me ask you a question. Does the school really not know about you being bullied?"
The, up until now, unusually modest Karuizawa showed a dubious face. Facing me, she started glaring at me. I stared back in return.
"You know that I’m not very fond of that topic right?"
"I’m not bringing it up without any reasons. I am asking because it concerns our next topic."
This must be a heavy topic for her. It won’t be easy making her understand, but before I had a chance to convince her, she seemed to have accepted it.
"Alright, I’ll trust what you have to say. Besides, you must have some reasons after all."
She seemed to have done her best, digesting the antagonism.
"The truth behind me being bullied. If I have to choose between them knowing or not, I don’t think they do. They may know about my absence or the many breaks during middle school, but they might only see that as me being sick or skipping classes? Ah, and rather than bullying, they may rather believe it was due to me being dumb. So that’s maybe why I was put in Class D."
An answer filled with self-reproach. Her reason for being in Class D should be something like that, I presumed. The effect of a bad impression due to her absences and low academics. Her arrogant attitude in high school was because she wanted to break off from the bullying. I don’t think being bullied is the reason for her being in Class D.
"Though the school may investigate the bullying, they won’t find anything I guess."
"Even you should know that the world is stupendously rotting, right?"
"I have indeed been bullied and suffered for many years. I have asked for help from my teachers and classmates. But it has only resulted in more suffering for my part…. There was nobody helping me from the crushing reality. Far from it, the bullying grew worse."
The bullying was deeply rooted. It has a strong tendency to fall into a vicious cycle. Lots of people watch the news, feel bad and keenly realise that bullying doesn’t have an easy solution. Even if a wave is pulling back, another bigger wave will come, assaulting the victim yet again.
"No matter how worn out I was, the school wouldn’t so easily acknowledge the bullying so they didn’t even try to help. At best, they lightly warned the bullies. So the bullying grew even worse, you know?"
It was a vexing topic alright. Why did you tattle to the school, what are you scheming, they will say and severely punish her. Even if the school acknowledges the bullying, typically, in most cases, it will be dealt with in secret. The school doesn’t want a bad reputation for having a bullying problem. There were cases in which some stubborn schools didn’t acknowledge that fact even after the bullied victims left behind their suicide note and ended their lives. But what’s even harder is that there are no salvation even after death. People will mock them, laugh at them and even spread tales about them as if it was a heroic saga on social networks. It was the fearful era in which you continued to be bullied even after death.
"My good classmates replied that they didn’t know about the bullying, the school, the bullies or me. This was their forced answer. No matter how unjust the reality was."
That’s it, she ended as if speaking about someone else. For Karuizawa Kei, this was a past she couldn’t change, and a past she would never change. In fact, this school had probably investigated her thoroughly, only concluding that she was frivolous, tardy and an airhead. If not only her surroundings, but also the school matched their stories, it would never come forth. If true, the truth may never prevail over the lies.
"But still I’m thankful. Towards the ones who bullied me and the school which hid that fact."
It wouldn’t be strange for her to think about her cruel past and cry, but she looked to the future and continued.
"Everyone here doesn’t know who I am. That is why I was able to find a new me. That would probably not have happened if they had knew."
Overturning her bad situation by herself by obtaining the popular Hirata.
"Karuizawa, I honestly want to praise you, but there is something else I need to tell you first. Assisting in bullying others is now forbidden."
"Ha? You say I’m bullying someone?"
"Being headstrong is good and all, but haven’t you been targeting Sakura lately? It’s obvious that she isn’t the kind of girl who would bully you. Even though you are doing it to prevent becoming a victim yourself, don’t join them."
I reminded her with a warning. No matter what past she has, there are things she can and cannot approve of doing.
"Sakura-san heh? You want to help her because she is so attached to you?"
"Do I need a reason? You should know rather well how it is to be on the victim’s side."
"As for me, this position is my lifeline. It’s not something I can carelessly throw away. I feel bad for Sakura-san, but the weak exist because the strong do. Especially for those pretending like me."
If I’m going to get bullied, I’ll bully first. If there was something I could read from her resolution, this was it.
"It’s for her sake. She has been helping me a lot after all."
"…Hmm. You sure admitted it quickly."
Dissatisfaction or discontent could’t be seen in her eyes. Only wariness.
"My words may not sound very convincing for you but… alright. I will be careful from now on. Is that all?"
"I’m glad you understand. Besides, you already have Hirata to secure your position. It won’t be threatened for now."
"It’s true that I may have been overdoing it."
As long as she can see herself objectively, there’s no need to worry.
"But if my position happen to be in danger…"
"Then I will back you up. If necessary, I will bring Hirata and Chabashira-sensei to your side and eliminate your enemies. This is a promise."
"Hmm… then it’s a deal."
She was never the kind of person who would resort to violence or intimidation in the first place. She may say so, but to me it seemed like she acted the role to protect herself. The victim of bullying would usually have a hard time socialising, but she seems to have overcome the pain, the owner of a strong mind. This I could be certain of since she wouldn’t yield to my threats that time.
"I wonder why…?"
"What is it?"
"No, you see. I don’t like to dig up my past. Letting others know is also a no. Still, I ended up telling you, and it was so easy that it surprised me."
It seems that was a mystery to her. Of course that also applies to me.
"Can I ask you something? Is this how you really are?"
Karuizawa asked cautiously, being the only one in our class who have seen my two sides. But what she was asking for was surprisingly hard for me to answer. I crossed my arms wondering how to respond.
"I am always like this, I suppose."
"You are totally different!"
That’s true, but it isn’t strictly false either. It’s a bit different from faking a personality.
"Just for reference, what is the difference between how I am usually and how I am now?"
"You are usually kinda dark and gloomy and a person who doesn't speak. But now you are very assertive and direct. You really stand out since they contrast each other. The way you speak is also different. What’s with you anyway?"
"Let’s see… isn’t that just like how people are different when there are people around?"
If I had to choose the most fitting answer, this would be it. But it still felt like it missed something. I, as a human being, had frankly "just been born". My personality began to form only since my enrollment in the school, it was still not solid. It takes time to solidify itself, especially regarding how to connect with people. I still don’t know the right way to express myself.
"Anyway, I plan on being myself as always."
"I am asking because you don’t look like you are."
Karuizawa narrowed her eyes, pouting her lips looking dissatisfied.
"Anyway, back to the topic. You can watch me from now on and see for yourself what kind of human I am."
"It feels like you are evading the question but yeah… What’s up with the pool then?"
"Tomorrow, the four of us, me, Ike, Yamauchi, Sudou and Horikita, Sakura, Kushida are planning on going out."
"A really strange combination. I can’t image Horikita and Sakura joining. Well, you are joining so there must be something, but I still can’t see how. They are going to be ogled at right? My condolences."
The girls would usually never come even if invited, that was clear as a day. That was indeed a troublesome factor. It’s no wonder she felt something was amiss.
"Anyway, I want you to come to the pool and join them."
"Ha!? Are you serious!?"
She didn't have any connections with that group… no, joining them would be too unnatural due to her bad relationship with them.
"You can just change at the dorm and wear something over. It will be a bit unpleasant, but you can return back the same way."
"No no, that’s not the problem, that’s really unpleasant you know?"
"I can sympathise with you, but do you really have the right to refuse?"
"Wow, you are the worst—"
"No matter what you say, it’s already set in stone. I will have you move as instructed."
After finishing what I had to say, I took a handwritten note and handed it to her forcibly.
"I’m showing some consideration alright."
"Showing some consideration, what’s up with that? I will be restricted for the whole day won’t I? On the last day of summer too!"
"Didn’t you say you were going to sleep in your room earlier? Can’t see any problems here."
She herself said it so it can’t be denied.
"I want you to join, but I didn’t ask you to accompany them."
Not understanding the meaning of what I said, she read the written note closely.
"What is the difference…?"
I couldn’t explain in details why I summoned her in the first place. Karuizawa, having listened to me until the very end seemed to have gotten a headache, cradling her head in her hands.
"What is it? You having a headache?"
"Of course it hurts, why, it’s them after— no, nothing, it’s meaningless even if I ask."
She seemed to imply that it would be pointless to ask.
"Why don’t you ask Horikita-san? Aren’t you close?"
"I can’t ask her. She doesn’t know that I am working in the background, you see."
That’s a natural response. Though clearing that up is a bit hard. Clearly, the right answer is to evade then mislead. However, towards her, I decided to take our relationship one step further.
"The fact that I came in contact with you on the boat is caused by me acting independently the whole time, including now. The reason I cannot tell her is because I cannot fully trust her yet."
I told her everything clearly with no falsehood.
"Eh? You don't trust her despite spending so much time together? That's weird."
"That is because she is a splendid cover for me. She is standing out on her own."
"So you are only using her?"
"That’s not the right term, but it may be appropriate for this situation."
"Hmm? I don’t understand it but… Can you stop with those subtle nuances of yours?"
She objected while smiling, showing her white teeth.
"…But the plans have been successful until now right. I always thought Horikita-san was the one coming up with and executing them. Who the heck are you anyway?"
I assume, to her, my existence was a mystery.
"Oh well. being more trusted than Horikita is not a bad thing."
Indeed. That is not exactly wrong. Karuizawa has something that Horikita lacks, which is why I can tell her but not the latter.
"I just have to follow your orders, right?"
"Good. Now that this problem is settled, for this event, can I ask you to accompany me for a bit? We need to set up a few things beforehand."
"I don’t have any veto power, right? Roger."
Implying that she wanted it done as fast as possible, she stood up and dusted off dirt from her rear. I don’t want to waste any time either so we headed for the pool facilities together.
On the night before my meeting with Karuizawa. While enjoying the last bit of summer vacation in my own room, Ike, representing the three idiots, started a group chat like usual.
[You want our summer vacation, our youth, to end like this?]
On one side it was deep, on the other side it was made without any thoughts put into it. Ike then continued before any of us could reply.
[You want our important summer vacation, one year of our youth, to end this way?]
Once more, but the phrasing was different.
[No, not at all!]
As if echoing this statement, Yamauchi showed his approval. Having experienced an unrequited love, a new start was crucial for him.
[Me too, give me my youth back!]
Joining their chorus was Sudou. Even though the basketball club was going well for him, he also wanted to experience love.
[Then you stand up! Youth won’t come to those who wait!]
Wanting it is fine with me, but how are you going to get it?
[You have any ideas?]
He was probably waiting for someone to ask. Right after, a long message arrived.
[Of course I do! The pool is open to everyone for a limited time now, eh? We are going to invite those gorgeous girls and swim! There is my Kikyou right? And Haruki’s Sakura? And also Sudou’s Horikita!"]
Digging up the wound of Yamauchi, Ike mentioned the names of some girls from our class.
[That may be so. If Suzune is going I’m going, but do you really think she will?]
[Leave that to Ayanokouji-sensei! Right?]
As if! Though I can’t say that so easily.
[You will do something right? You ARE my friend, right?]
The sentence had no stamps, but a threat instead, signed Sudou. It was only during these times that they used the word "friends". So convenient.
[Guess I can try. Don’t expect too much alright.]
After replying, I suspended the chat and tried calling Horikita. The reason I answered his pleas were that some parts of me also wanted to invite her. Since her reputation in class has begun to rise, I can expect great results from this.
"What do you want?"
"Can’t I call without a reason?"
"I’m hanging up?"
"Wait wait, I do have something! Truth is, some friends talked about going to the pool tomorrow. They then told me to call you since you have been reading, holing up in your own room everyday."
"Your friends? You mean that 3-man idiot group? I can’t stomach joining them though."
What a nostalgic name…
"Would you have come if it was only the two of us?"
"It would be the same."
Of course it would—.
But this time, I had some other means.
I felt her attitude and aura change from across the telephone line from hearing this simple word.
"The word thermos has been on my mind lately, you know."
"… What do you mean?"
It would have been fine if she only did as told, but she feigned complete ignorance.
"Getting a hand stuck in a thermos, or something, ring a bell?"
"Your personality is seeping through your unpleasant way of speaking."
Realising what I tried to tell her, she was more discontent than usual.
"I would be happier if you were more honest."
"So where and at what time tomorrow?"
Horikita has things she had to protect. I assume she must not let anyone know of that thermos incident. For this reason, she was even willing to go to the pool.
"Half past eight in the morning by the lobby. We are breaking up by the evening."
"Understood. But I won’t forgive you the next time you use that again."
I don’t have any intentions of using it against her the second nor the third time. Rather than using it to blackmail her, it was like saying thanks for my help during the thermos incident. I believe she also understood that.
[I invited her.]
[Good work Ayanokouji! You avoided the German Suplex on the concrete!]
… It seems like my life was in danger.
[Invite her for me Ayanokouji! I beg you!]
He should have been rejected yesterday, but he still sent that text message. Right after, a private message from Yamauchi arrived.
[I have to cover up my rejection! Help me!]
Is what his other side conveyed through the sorrowful message. It seems he wants to be seen as still being in love with Sakura. Of course, if she joined, the boys would be undoubtedly excited. But she wasn’t a girl who would join that easily. She was sincere, but she didn’t join Karuizawa’s groups during swimming lessons. Her breasts, larger than the others, stole the attention from the same, if not even more from those of the other sex. Also, it must be difficult going together with a guy she recently rejected. Leaving aside whether she wanted to go or not, I could at least call her.
In the blink of an eye, the promised day came. The start of the last event of the summer vacation. The promised time being 8:30. As I descended down to the lobby, most of the members have already gathered.
"You barely made it, huh".
"There's still about......10 seconds until the promised time".
"The elevator was in a state of congestion and that's why you were late, right?".
Even though I was not late, I was probed thoroughly like that by Horikita. It's probably something like a reaction to having been invited forcibly. On top of that, she probably feels that the atmosphere of this place is a troublesome one. It can't be helped because with Kushida and Sakura, Ike and Yamauchi, there's barely anyone for her to talk to.
"G-Good morning, Ayanokouji-kun".
"Good morning, Sakura".
While slightly seeming scared, Sakura peeks at me while greeting me. Towards that Sakura, Yamauchi doesn't seem to be paying any attention but it seems he's worried about her unconsciously.
Sakura too, feels somewhat uneasy somewhere.
I'll take note of this for reference, but confessions don't only lead to happy things. Troublesome things also come along with it afterwards.
"Since it's him we're talking about he probably overslept" Horikita said.
Although the time for gathering had come and gone, there were no signs of Sudou showing up. Since he was working hard on his club activities up until yesterday, he must probably be exhausted. Since no one made an attempt to contact Sudou, I made the move.
"It's not working, the call's not going through".
I tried calling him, but even as the phone continues to ring, I couldn't even reach the answering machine. I ended the call and informed my surroundings of that.
"What's that guy Sudou doing? It's already 8:30! If he doesn't hurry, we won't be the first ones!".
The irritated Ike, while fidgeting, stared at the elevator. But it showed no signs of moving.
"O-ok, I'll go wake him up".
Yamauchi, who was feeling uncomfortable from the awkward silence between him and Sakura, said that as he got onto the elevator. At that very moment, I could feel an invisible heavy atmosphere fade away.
"Did something happen with him?".
It seems Horikita has also noticed the change in Yamauchi and asked me that in a loud voice. I scrambled my head for an answer on how to reply to that.
"Various things happened".
In the end, I stopped talking. Both Yamauchi and Sakura wouldn't be happy if this story was to spread.
"Hmmm---? If it isn't... Horikita-san and the others, good morning---".
As we were in the lobby awaiting Sudou, Ichinose and three of her female friends came down.
Bath towels could be seen peeking out from the unfamiliar, colorful plastic bags they held in their hands.
"Could it be you guys are also heading to the pool?".
"That's the case indeed".
The last thing to eyeball at the very end of summer vacation is to go and play at the pool. Even if our intentions overlapped, it's nothing strange.
"Since we're all here, let's all play together. How about that?".
"Of course you're welcome to join!!!".
Ike, almost as if he's flying, jumped up from the sofa and welcomed her. This time around, it seems Horikita has no intentions of saying anything in particular as she didn't say a word.
"It's just, sorry. One of us overslept and we're waiting for him to come down. One of our friends is fetching him right now".
"Roooooger" Ichinose replied.
Opening his mouth wide open like a crocodile, Sudou scratches his bed head hair.
"Sorry. I overslept. Looks like the exhaustion from club activities piled up".
"Don't tell me that".
Sudou was apologizing for oversleeping to Horikita, who was next to him but she seems to be treating him like something troublesome. There were no signs that the distance between those two had shortened.
On the other hand, the Ichinose group who had jumped in to participate as well were talking with Kushida at the center of it.
Horikita called out to me, who was flanking Sudou from the other side. Sudou glanced at me with a bored expression on his face.
"Don't you think this situation is somewhat strange?".
"The Ike-kun and Yamauchi-kun I know would be pushing their luck more than anyone else at a time like this, wouldn't they?".
In response to that sharp statement, Sudou also went rigid for a moment. Since she was right beside him, Horikita did not overlook that figure.
"Did you recall something, Sudou-kun?".
"Nothing in particular......".
Sudou attempted to deceive her like that, but rather than losing her distrust, it only made Horikita more vigilant. Ike and Yamauchi were walking together both with stiff expressions while rubbing shoulders with each other.
"I can't help but think that they have some suspicious goal though......." Horikita said.
Besides....as if saying that, Horikita focused too on the bag that Ike was holding.
"Even though they should have nothing besides towels and swimsuits with them. It seems like the bag's rather heavy".
It looked like the bag that Ike was holding held more weight than those of any of the other men, including me.
"Really? It doesn't really look like that to me......".
"It doesn't look like that? After looking at that state?".
Horikita's suspicions have a basis after seeing the bag swaying and almost stretching out his elbows in the process.
"Isn't it because he just wants to frolic about after getting to the pool? And he's just carrying the items he needs for that".
I said that to back up Sudou's claim. Sudou quickly got onto that ark of salvation.
"Y-Yeah, I think that's it".
"I see......indeed that might just be it".
Through daily observations, it's a known fact that the 3 Idiots obsess over girls. It can't be helped even if she feels apprehension towards those three who are being uncharacteristically obedient.
But there was a deep reason behind this. Right now, those three are being assaulted by extreme feelings of nervousness. This is not because of the fact that they are being surrounded by beautiful girls right now, nor is it because they will be seeing those girls in their swimsuits very soon.
I should change the subject here to keep up the deception.
"The results of your club activities, should I put it that way, but did you receive any new income of points?".
"Huh? Y-Yeah, because of my contribution in the tournament, I got a little. Even so, it's just about 3000 points" Sudou said.
It's nothing much, as if to say that he said that humbly but having overheard that, Horikita honestly admired him.
"You managed to gain points through your personal activities".
".....yeah. But there's a lot of 2nd year and 3rd year seniors who have gotten tens of thousands of points so I can't be cocky just yet. If the accomplishments are significant, it can also affect the class point after all. From the second semester onwards too, I'm going to accomplish more and more" Sudou said as he crossed his arms and made a Guts pose.
Towards the Sudou who accomplished something she could not, Horikita honestly paid her respects.
"The day you contribute significantly to the class may be close at hand" she said.
Truthfully, I also had such a premonition. If nothing bad happens, Sudou is an existence that could be a boon to the class.
However, it doesn't mean there's nothing to worry about. It's very easy for Sudou to make enemies. In regards to that, I'll have to watch over him together with Horikita who has the same tendency as him. We walked towards the 'Special Swimming Facility' for the exclusive use of the swimming club linked to the edge of the school grounds. In regards to this area, entry has been permitted to us even without the special need to wear our uniforms. It already seems to be a huge hit especially considering it's the last day.
Prior to even entering the pool, already the place seems to be crowded with a large number of students. But as expected of such a futuristic school, separate locker rooms for the different grades have already been prepared.
It was normally an area one could not easily enter, but by following the instructions of a kindly placed guide board, we could enter the area without getting lost.
"Then everyone, let's meet back up here in 20 minutes".
Pointing at the corridor that connects to the pool, Ichinose said that. It's extremely helpful to have an organizer like her around.
At the same time the girls walked off, Ike sighed like that in arousal and started to walk briskly. I can understand the feelings of excitement, but it's no good to be in that kind of state right here and now.
He was the first to reach the locker room. I lightly hit Ike's back and urged him to enter the locker room. Right after entering the locker room, Ike and Yamauchi both went to occupy the innermost locker as quickly as they could.
"H-Hey, you guys. For us, today is going to be a special day. Don't you have that sort of feeling?".
"Yeah. We are going to go beyond anyone in our class, and anyone in this whole school". Ike and Yamauchi started talking in a loud voice that went beyond normal hearing level and started attracting the attention of others.
Sudou who could no longer stand that sight, went over and grabbed their necks with both his hands and put them in a headlock.
"Guuu! What're you doing, Ken!".
"You guys are causing too much of a ruckus. I feel your rush too but it's dangerous to stand out too much" he said.
"...y-yeah that's right I guess. Sorry, sorry. It hurts!".
As a lesson, Sudou smashed the foreheads of those two together. It's a slightly aggressive one but overall not a bad method.
"You're being surprisingly calm, Sudou" I told him.
"I wasn't expecting much from the beginning after all. And besides, I'm torn between half feeling happiness and the other half not feeling it. Thinking about it rationally now, it's something that would make Suzune sad. I really don't want them to see such a defenseless Suzune too. A true man seduces his girl on his own" Sudou said.
That sentiment is correct. If possible, I'd like these two to learn that too but for Ike and Yamauchi right now it's only the sexual gratification in front of their eyes right now on their minds. I check my phone. And when I did, a message came from Karuizawa saying she's just entered the locker room.
"Who's it from?".
Since Ike with a red forehead came by to look at my phone with suspicious eyes, I quickly put it down.
"Let's see, it's from a woman isn't it?" he asked me.
"Do you think I'm that popular?" I replied.
".....that's also true I guess. Alright, let's change! Spread out the towels!!!".
I did want him for a moment to affirm my statement, but I shut that feeling off in my heart.
In the end, whether good luck comes by or not is something they'll just have to bet on, for Ike and the others.
"This is already totally a luxury facility.....".
The large pool facility that is normally used for club activities, seemed completely different today. Naturally there were a large number of students crowding the place but in addition to that, food stands were also extensively opened all over the place. Light meals, the staple of food stands, in other words junk food were also abundant.
Hot dogs, yakisoba and okonomiyaki and the such. Although that in itself was a surprise, even stranger was the fact that senior students seemed to be managing it all. From serious students without a smile to students happily working away, there were various students like that. It's almost like I'm looking at a special examination.
"I wonder what kind of plot this is?".
I don't know about that but the certain thing is they seem to be in a festive mood in any case. As I stood around waiting for the girls to arrive, I felt the atmosphere around me make a complete change.
Putting in effort is a basic prerequisite for people to attract positive attention to themselves. To put it in an easy-to-understand manner, take studying for example. If you were the foremost at it or took 1st place, people around you will take notice of it. Once again, demonstrating remarkable success in sports will also cause people to pay attention to you.
But there are also exceptions to that. One of those is a conspicuous appearance. Handsome men and beautiful women, it doesn't matter which, that class of people will find it easier to bathe in attention than the ones I cited above. Of course I'm not saying they're not putting in effort to maintain their outward appearances but there's no denying that such a special element exists to this.
I can't speak for other schools but at the very least in regards to this school, I can safely say that the 'appearance' level is high. The members of the group currently going out with us aside as a matter-of-fact, a lot of the students around us I don't know the names of are also obviously high-level visually speaking.
Of course there are all sorts of people and there's no denying that but normally the cream doesn't rise to the top to this degree. It would be natural that Ike and the others spend each and every day aroused and excited. And on top of that outside appearance, I wonder how it would be if even their inside personalities were to be perfect. Cute and fashionable around people and excelling in academics. Anyone's gaze would be stolen away by a girl like that.
In the loud corridor of the facility, all the male students almost simultaneously turned their gaze towards a single place.
"Hey---, this is a huge crowd, isn't it?".
Then, without even noticing their gazes and bathing in their attention, the figure of Ichinose appeared at the scene of the meetup.
Not knowing where else to look, I directed my gaze towards the wall as I lightly raised my hand to answer her.
"Where are the others? I thought the boys would be faster at changing" Ichinose said.
"They're still changing".
It could be said that due to various circumstances at play they were late too.
"But really, you've finished changing rather quickly".
Considering that it wasn't that far apart from me, that's quite a feat.
"Nyahaha, I'm confident in my changing speed". She answered with a slightly proud tone like that to something that's not really a feat to boast of. This innocence, too, may be the secret to Ichinose's popularity.
"Ohh? Ayanokouji-kun, you've bought a rash guard?".
"You may think it strange for a man, but I don't like exposing my skin in front of other people. If it use it outside of classes there's no problem, I've heard that and so I thought to buy one".
"I see, I see. I think that's fine too. It's not a violation of the regulations" she said.
There aren't very many but in this facility there are students like me who are also wearing an outer garment despite being men. Ichinose, who had started directing her attention towards me, used her index finger like a pin and poked my belly from over my garments.
"It's pretty hard. Also, your body's just the right ideal amount of slender without being excessively muscular".
Touching me all over without any reservation, she repeats the same action on my arms and my shoulders among other parts. I was fortunate enough to have the additional income to buy myself an outer garment. I'll have to thank Katsuragi.
"Do you exercise?".
"No, I don't. It's just the material of my garments or my skin simply being hard making it like that. It must be because I don't exercise daily" I said.
Ichinose dropped her gaze towards my legs but immediately stopped asking questions. But even so, being in proximity to Ichinose like this, I'd become conscious of her monstrous---no, large breasts.
How am I going to swim or race in this condition? In the first place, my ability to properly move itself is suspect.
"...but really they're late. I'll go check on them". What am I doing and why am I doing what I'm doing, I understand those well. It's because I could no longer bear to stand beside the swimsuit-clad Ichinose and so I turned heel and headed back towards the men's changing room. Then once again spending some time with Ike and the others, once preparations were complete together we all headed back out towards the corridor. Although it must be a result of some time having passed since then, all the girls including Horikita have assembled.
Ike, whose voice leaked from the spectacular sight of the girls in front of him, desperately tried to rein in his voice. In regards to Sakura, she shrunk all the way towards the back. Naturally, she was wearing a rash guard that hid her chest.
But it seems like not everyone was able to conceal their arousal towards seeing the swimsuit-clad forms they would normally not be able to see.
"Fufufu, I can see it. Underneath that thin swimsuit layer, those breasts, that place!".
Ike and Yamauchi were looking at the girls as though they had X-ray vision. They really seem to be living it up.
"Then, shall we go? For now it looks like the one at the far back is vacant".
First we moved to secure a place where we could take out breaks. Even here, as if to take the lead, Ichinose walked ahead. Then, as if to match Ichinose, Kushida too. As they did, the boys fell in line right behind them.
It seems their objectives are the gently swaying asses of Ichinose and Kushida. But even amongst them, Sudou stood at Horikita's side and showed no signs of moving away. These two, in a way, are properly developed too. Unexpectedly they might become a good, well-suited couple.
Next, I routinely moved onto Sakura.
When only the two of us were left, Sakura ever so slightly thanked me.
Towards that figure, I could not help but ask a question.
"Why are you thanking me?".
Towards that question, Sakura answered me strangely. Then realized that there was no reason why I'd have an idea.
"Umm that's, for inviting me out today.......".
"What's that even supposed to mean? This is normal isn't it? Because you're my friend" I told Sakura.
Towards Sakura, the word 'friend' easily came out of my mouth. Hearing that from me, Sakura's eyes lit up like a little puppy and she happily gazed at me.
"That's why it's not something you need to be thanking me over".
I repeated that once again, but it doesn't seem like Sakura feel the same way.
"Still, thank you".
"No....well I guess it's fine".
A question mark floated above my head but let's allow her to conclude it on her own. She's probably this type of person. That's why I'm able to relax while together with her without feeling any bad feelings.
But even so, Sakura's really becoming a straightforward person. She's matured to the extent she's almost unrecognizable as the person I first met. Even though a fellow classmate confessed to her, without running away from it she properly received it. Seeing her grow from day to day, I couldn't help but think that perhaps I too, might be able to change.
"I've noticed this just recently but you know, during PE lessons the teacher's always telling us that swimming will definitely be useful to us later. That was referring to the uninhabited island test".
Towards the Sakura who informed me of this with blazing eyes, there's no need to bungle it up and depress her.
"I see, now that you mention it that's certainly true" I told her.
"As I thought!".
Perhaps she felt happy about her deduction but Sakura slightly bounced around innocently. I could see her large breasts swaying over the rash guard. This really makes her unable to take off her outer garments. As big as they are, the situation won't bring about anything good, I felt a little sympathy for the circumstances faced by girls.
In any case, through our conversation, I'm happy that I was able to discover a new side to Sakura. But, Sakura immediately made an apologetic face.
"If I participated in the classes properly without being embarrassed, I wonder if I would have been more useful to you......I was just using the excuse of poor health to run away the whole time......".
"If you've realized even that, isn't that more than enough?".
The students who've lived only for themselves up until now have slowly begun to realize that this alone won't cut it. A person cannot live alone. Unless one plans on living like a hermit holed up on a mountain, there's no other choice but to live collectively together. The majority of middle and high school students don't realize this fact. They live in solitude absorbed in the internet or in their social games. Or there are delinquents who bother the public by committing minor offenses or serious crimes.
Unaware of how one should cooperate with and help others around you. Depending on the circumstances, there are also those who live their whole lives never realizing that.
But this school is different. Their way of doing it is unique but I feel like they're attempting to tell each individual student something. As a matter of fact, Sakura beside me has begun to realize this. That perhaps there was something she could do for the class. That will one day be a great asset.
"Hmm? If it isn't Ichinose and the others. So you guys also came here today".
As we walked around looking for space, three male students called out to Ichinose. One of them was someone I recalled and when he realized my presence, he lightly nodded. It was Class B's Kanzaki.
"Yahho---if it isn't Shibata-kun and the others".
The boy named Shibata raised his hand in answer. He also answered us from Class D with a smile too.
"This seems like a fun mix of people. Let us join in too".
"I'm perfectly fine with it but.....is it ok?".
Kushida nods that there's no problem as though it was a matter-of-fact. By doing this, Ike and the others had their right to veto automatically annihilated. Ultimately the three from Class B joined us and the total number of people rose to a large household number of 13.
"Sorry for disturbing you guys".
Kanzaki, who knows that I'm not the type to argue against the general flow, approached me and said that. Seeing that, Sakura took a step backwards. It was a brilliant way of erasing her presence so Kanzaki won't notice her.
"This is also fine isn't it? It's the last day of the summer vacation after all".
"There are few chances in this school to get along with students from other classes, you see. Shibata and the others also seem happy".
"You're not like them".
Kanzaki was calm as usual, or more like I felt as though he was making contact with me from a distance.
"I'm just similar to you, Ayanokouji. I'm not good at dealing with the liveliness".
As I conversed casually with Kanzaki while walking, from the direction ahead of us we could hear a wave of cheers rising up.
"They're being rowdy over there".
Sudou said that. As I raised my head to look, at the center of the uproar a splash of water rose up. And at the same time as that, a person and a ball both fluttered up towards the sky. A violently driven spike hit the opponent's coat underwater. It seems they were playing volleyball at the pool.
"Woah! That's amazing! That guy, isn't he really next level?".
Yamauchi, beholding that sight with his eyes, shouted out. In this large facility there were 3 pools that were prepared and they seem to be used for the playing of different games.
One of them is a standard pool you can go swimming in whenever you feel like it. One of them is something like a flowing pool. And finally, the last one is a pool geared towards amusement and is a sports-use pool. And now in that sports-use pool, surrounded by a large amount of girls a fierce round of volleyball was occurring. They were students I've never seen before. A number of them seemed mature like an adult so the majority of them are probably 2nd year or 3rd year students. A male-female mixed team and their high-level plays were unfolding.
But even amongst them, there was one male student in particular who stood out conspicuously.
The one who Sudou praised was indeed that male student with a conspicuous aura. That slender composition of his would at first glance, seem to be delicate. But on his body, one could see a six-pack. But what stands out most of all from him was the blonde hair that flows gently whenever he moves intensely and the extremely prepared look on his features. He was so handsome one could almost mistake it for an illusion of seeing a movie on a screen.
And it seems most of the female students too, had their eyes stolen away completely by this handsome man.
"Khhhhh, that's the type of guy I hate the most. It's not like he's that talented or putting in that much effort, he's just in the winning camp because of his good looks".
It's not like I couldn't understand Ike and the others with their venomous feelings, but their expectations were promptly betrayed.
A handsome man who bathes in attention. The sharp glint in his eyes vividly makes him stand out above all else. The ball tossed out of courtesy in that handsome man's own team, and in response he leaps up high. Forgetting the fact that in that moment, most of the girls raised their voices, I killed my breath and watched him.
He had an acute angle, and high speeds and the bullet, no, the ball assaulted the enemy's position.
The student on the other side who picked up that ball too, had superior physical abilities, as they showed an agile response in jumping in to play the ball.
Wow! As screams like that rose up all around, at the same time the handsome man's team received increasing points. No matter who looks at it, that handsome man's superior physical abilities should be evident. Looking at the way the lower half of his body was developed, perhaps he's involved in sports that focuses on the use of legs. Running club perhaps? Baseball and soccer are also possibilities.
"H-He's handsome, and smart and can handle himself in sports too......who the hell!?".
"Things are getting quite lively, aren't they? He alone rules over that place".
"It looks like it. I don't know who from where he is though".
Because both me and Horikita are weak in regards to knowing about other classes and students of other grades and their circumstances. In cases like this, it's best to ask Kushida, whose network extends wider than anyone else's. And the answer to our questions came immediately.
"That man is the 2nd year Class A's Nagumo-senpai. He's extremely popular amongst girls".
Recently, I've been familiarized with that name. Ichinose then explains more about Nagumo.
"The current vice-president and the man who will become the student council president next year. He's really smart" Ichinose said.
Having been standing beside us listening to our conversation, Ichinose reacted to Nagumo's name and answered us like that. Furthermore, towards the keyword "Student Council" that Ichinose uttered, Horikita who was also standing beside me showed a slight reaction. And every time the student named Nagumo moves and shows off his activity, a high-pitched shrill scream rises. In the pools, at the same time there were also other matches occurring but most of the girls did not look at anything else except Nagumo.
"For all his popularity I don't know him at all. You too right, Ayanokouji-kun? Indeed his physical abilities seem to be that of a prodigy's but compared to his popularity I don't think it's really all that amazing. In this regard, the student coucil president would overwhelmingly surpass him, wouldn't he?" Horikita said.
That was rather brazen of her. Hiding the fact that he's her actual older brother while praising him like that. But in regards to that aspect, it seems Ichinose does not have any objections as she honestly admitted to it.
"Yes well the student council president is amazing, so there's that. In this school's history the current student council president can almost be said to be the most talented one ever. Speaking of which, he has the same last name as you, Horikita-san, doesn't he?".
"It seem so, yes".
It seems she has no intention of answering here, but Horikita simply shrugs it off.
"But, there are rumors that he isn't losing to that student council president in terms of ability too. As a matter of fact, in the elections held last year, President Horikita and Vice-President Nagumo fought for the seat of student council president they say. At the time, even though Vice-President Nagumo was only a 1st year student" Ichinose said.
"You're really familiar with student council business aren't you?" Horikita asked her.
"It's because I joined the student council. So about things like that, I inevitably ended up remembering them" Ichinose replies.
Having heard that, it seems Horikita was unable to hide her surprise. But still, to think Ichinose joined the student council. Speaking of which the day I met her for the first time, she was talking to the homeroom teacher of Class B, Hoshinomiya-sensei, regarding 'student council business'. Unfortunately I have no intention of working under "that" student council president but thinking about how the system of this school is set up, the significance of joining the student council must be extremely large.
"By the way, what's the condition to enter the student council? It's not like just anyone can enter is it?".
"Hmm, this school is a bit special. In the case that you are unaffiliated, between April and the end of June, if you pass the interview for the student council of October, then you can join, something like that. To tell the truth, the first time I was rejected, but since you can take it as many times as you want, I persisted at it. The student council president never really agreed but Vice-President Nagumo made the final decision on it. I heard it later from Vice-President Nagumo but it seems President Horikita is disappointed with this year's 1st year students. On average each year about 2-3 1st year students get accepted, but this year the only one who was accepted so far is me. That's why I'd like to hurry up and triumph over this. Maybe in October, President Horikita might be stepping aside".
Just like how Horikita is putting in effort to get closer to her brother, Ichinose is probably also struggling her best.
"But I think my goal will definitely be Nagumo-senpai. Senpai had a similar start to me and we get along well too. In this school, all student council presidents in its history started out in Class A but Nagumo-senpai, just like me, started out in Class B. And before we realized it, he's already unmistakably in line to be the next student council president. That's why after Nagumo-senpai, I will be student council president---just kidding".
It seems inside Ichinose, compared to the older Horikita, her evaluation of Nagumo is higher. She spoke the words that she herself wanted to be student council president one day expressed her determination.
It seems some of that, no, probably from the bottom of her heart, it did not sit right with Horikita as she snapped at it.
"From the moment he started out late, you should already be capable of imagining his potential".
You're free to think whatever you want but isn't that self-destructive to you too? From the very fact that you started out in Class D you'd already be judged......or could it be she's---
"Could it be you, still think you were assigned to Class D because of a mistake.......?".
"Isn't it obvious?".
She replied to me like that. No hesitation, boldly and even naturally.
"Well, I understand why Horikita-san would feel this is strange. It doesn't seem like the classes are decided based on ability alone. Your intellectual ability is of course as a human being, your maturity and cooperativeness. It's only after seeing all such abilities that we are evaluated, isn't it?".
"That is in other words-----saying there's a problem with my coordination ability?" Horikita asked.
"Ahh, no, sorry if that's how it came off to you I apologize. But you see, think about it for a bit. Basically Horikita-san is the type to believe in herself. If we turn that backwards, it could also be taken to mean that you're self-centered. When we head out into society, a person who's self-centered and a person who adheres to the instructions they are given, isn't it a case-by-case thing to see which one is more talented?".
Even if you are a self-centered person, if you are a talented person you'll still be needed in the world but that is not always absolute. However, on the other hand, those who adhere to the instructions will be vital almost anywhere and again will be people in demand.
"I'm not convinced......".
Her attitude itself has not changed, but even so, Horikita's mental state should slowly begin changing. Since Ichinose called out to a friend, I slightly closed my distance with Horikita.
"Speaking of which, you didn't announce your candidacy to run for the student council, did you? Didn't you choose this school because you wanted to be by your brother's side?" I asked her.
".....this and that are different things. Even you can at least imagine it, can't you? Even if I wanted to join the student council and took an interview for it, I would absolutely not be acknowledged".
Certainly it's not that hard to imagine. Even Ichinose from Class B was not accepted initially, if it's Horikita from Class D.......he probably wouldn't allow the sister he wanted to expel from the school to join. So that means she's the one most aware of something like that. I watched the match for a while like that, but ultimately Nagumo's team overwhelmed the other team and won.
The girls who were cheering Nagumo on eventually began to gather around him as he climbed out of the pool onto the poolside.
"Hey, that guy's got a piercing on his ear! Is that even fine!?".
Ike, who could no longer find anything except that to interject in with, shouted that out.
"Right now we're in the middle of summer vacation so isn't it fine?".
But even those words were in vain because Ichinose retorted to him like that.
"N-No, but I mean. He's got a hole in his ear!? That's a big problem!".
"I think those are probably non-hole piercings, aren't they? You can put them on your ear without opening a hole up in it. Normally in school, he always dresses neatly".
No matter how far the interjections go, it seems he's a completely flawless student.
"Hey, why don't we also play volleyball in the pool? We have Shibata-kun and the others so about 6 people and you guys have about 7 people so it'll be fine even if we play on rotation". Since we came all the way out to the pool, Ichinose made a proposal like that. The first one to agree with her was Ike.
"I'll do it, I'll do it! Like Nagumo-senpai, I'll also collect the passionate gazes of the girls!" Ike said.
I think that's probably impossible but a lot of the students seem to be in favor of it. Since they've come all the way out to the pool, they probably want to play to their heart's content.
"U-Umm. I'm bad at physical activity so...I'll just watch".
She pulled back reservedly, or rather, seeming like she really doesn't want to do it Sakura said that. Since it was obvious that she's of the attitude of not wanting to play volleyball, there were no objections in particular.
As for numbers, this is basically a 6v6 game but one seems to be leaking complaints about the volleyball match itself.
"I'm not feeling it either".
Even though she owes me a debt, it doesn't seem like she's in the mood to play along.
"Horikita-san, are you going to run away?".
Laughing, Ichinose said that as if to provoke her.
"There's no such thing as running or anything when it comes to just a simple game".
"Indeed it's just a game. But it's also like a miniaturized version of our classes right? Which one is more ambitious, which one has superior teamwork. In a sense, this is a simulated competition between classes? Or are you saying you don't wish to fight against us?" Ichinose asked.
A proposal almost like an examination that includes analysis of our combat potential. If you think of it that way, there would be no reason to decline.
".....fine. Let's do it".
Class B, who would become our enemy in the not-too-distant future. Right now it's just a game, but they probably also want to confirm the ability of their opponents too. Horikita, who accepts the challenge from Ichinose.
"And now, to make the match more entertaining, the winner will enjoy the full expenses of lunch for free. Is it fine to add a bonus like this?".
"I'll accept that condition too".
Having submitted our application to use the court, until one is vacant we each devise our own strategies. The rules of the match are 15 points per set with 3 sets for the match.
The team who gets 2 sets first will be declared the winners. As for serve rights, it'll be done via rotation and the one that nets a point gets the right to serve again.
"This is a game. But a match is a match. Since we're doing it, we're winning it".
"Horikita-san, you're unusually fired up".
"If I hear that lunch would be free, I might think that. But that's not it. To treat this number of people there's a possibility of spending up to 10,000 points. In other words, it's still private points but it also means our gap with Class B will shorten by that much. On the contrary, if we lose the gap will widen by that much. It's just like a special exam" Horikita said.
Even if the losing amount were to be shared between everyone, it would be about 2000 points each. Not a cheap thing.
"Alright. Let's win this, Ken, Haruki!".
Motivations differ from person to person but Horikita seems to have shifted their mindset in a good direction.
"Leave it to me, Suzune. If I'm here that's the strength of 100 men. Those kinds of meatheads, I'll scatter them all" Sudou said.
"No......meathead is a word that's used to represent a person like Sudou, you know?".
Towards the Sudou who seemed to be magnificently misunderstanding it, I interjected.
"What'd you mean? Meathead means someone with a gold medal for their brains, in other words, someone who studies too much right?" Sudou asks.
It seems Sudou is misunderstanding magnificently like a meathead.
"That may be the case.....please forget what I just said".
Interjecting itself is just a troublesome matter. Because Sudou was looking at the members of Class B and laughed with room to spare. Giving off the confidence that there is no way he could possibly lose.
"Let me test out whether or not you can be used, Sudou-kun".
Even though when it comes to studying he was just pulling on her legs, in a situation like this he seems to be a reassuring ally to have. I can understand Horikita's feelings for expecting a lot from him. In Class D, the one with the best physical abilities would be Sudou. As an exception, there is Kouenji, but it's better for better or for worse to not count him.
"Sudou, do you have experience playing volleyball in a pool?".
"No. I've played some volleyball in class is all".
"You're quite confident for someone like that......".
"Basketball connects to all sports---it's something that the seniors I respect have said" Sudou said.
Believing in one's own power without doubts. For Horikita too, it's a good chance to determine whether Sudou is all talk or not.
"Alright, leave it to me!".
Looking at the ball gently alighting, Sudou jumped to a great height. And with that marvelous jumping power and using his own body as a spring, he struck the ball. The ball, sharp as a bullet, then assaulted the enemy's position.
Ichinose eagerly snaps at it, but unlike on land, her movements in water were slow and she could not make it in time. There were no cheers rising up for him, but that power of his was equal to if not superior to that of Nagumo which I had seen just a while ago.
Easily scoring like that, Sudou made a Guts pose. So this is what it means to be in one's own element. His ally, Horikita, also stared at Sudou's movements in admiration.
"That was an amazing ball just now, you really got us there".
Picking up the ball floating on the water, Ichinose handed it back to Sudou. She expresses her admiration towards him.
"Heh. Well, I guess a woman really can't return my attacks. I need to dial it down" Sudou said.
"Mumu. Discriminating against women? I'll have you know even girls won't lose to boys". Towards an aggressive statement like that, Ichinose replied like that while laughing without anger as she returned to her original position. It was a match that started with Class B's serve but already Sudou was showing off his accomplishments in leaps and bounds and we've already gained a 7 to 3 lead.
"Sudou-kun has a large defensive range and high attack power, we need to avoid his area as much as possible....."
Becoming more cautious of the Sudou who was pulling his team up, Kanzaki shoots back at the serve Yamauchi released.
"Ok, Ichinose. Then give me the ball, I've found our target!".
Towards the ball that was falling on her own team's turf, Ichinose courteously raised it back up towards a more favorable position.
The one who leaped up in response to the falling ball was Shibata. Shibata attacks. The target destination of his attack is---sadly right in front of me. If this is not a coincidence then this would mean that they've determined that the biggest hole here is me.
"Get it, Ayanokouji!".
As strict words like that came from Sudou, I took a step forward in the water. The speed of the ball itself was not in itself fast. It shouldn't be difficult to just touch it. I extended my hand. Beh! A dull sound like that rang out.
I did repel the ball, but it brilliantly spiralled out far away.
On the other side, having seen this situation, Ichinose and Shibata exchanged a high-five like that.
Naturally Sudou intensely glares at me with a forceful fervor.
"What the hell was that? That bad play just now!" Sudou said.
"Sorry.....this is a good example of a point taken in a magnificent manner and one taken in a simple manner having the same value in the end" I replied.
"Don't fuck around, you. Even if your angle is that messed up that's fine, but at least get the ball up in the air" Sudou told me but even if I get told that it's problematic. This is the first time in my life I've played volleyball. It won't be as convenient for me.
"Hey, hey calm down Sudou. I'll get it back with my splendid serve".
Having picked up the ball that had fallen nearby, Ike began to serve on his own.
And with a 'boyon' like sound, the ball strangely flew towards the territory on the other side. It flew towards where the girls were, and as a matter-of-fact was tossed back up and then the attacker Ichinose jumped up.
"These guys are useless!".
Blocking the ball that Ichinose struck with his arms, Sudou sent it back towards the Class B side.
This time, it was Kanzaki who tossed the ball back up and once of the girls there sent it back towards us. Towards the ball that was accelerating towards me, Sudou used his great height to block it.
Sudou, who brilliantly covered for me, charged at me and blocked it.
Seeing the Sudou who could no longer make a move, Ichinose jumped high while shouting that. In that moment, her breasts swayed. Ike, Yamauchi and myself all had our gazes stolen by that sight.
As Sudou lands, he shouted that at us, and when he did, Horikita who was in the vicinity, tossed the ball from Ichinose back up and raised it back up towards a more favorable spot.
The game had only just begun, but already it was a place where Sudou made the judgement.
For Sudou, whose has incredible power, there were pretty much no girls capable of receiving his attacks. The boys Kanzaki and Shibata were holding on, but firstly and secondly Sudou had superior technique and power and that's why they were both forced onto the defensive.
The only strategy Class B could take now is to not let Sudou have his freedom. Or not give Sudou the ball. On the other hand, on the Class D side both Horikita and Kushida had good physical abilities and above average offense and defense power. A stable lineup.
On the flip side, including me, Ike and Yamauchi became the weak link.
Instead of snapping at the serve that landed near him, Yamauchi ended up letting Class B take a point away. Every time he charges, Sudou's frustration grows and he clicks his tongue.
It can't be helped because most of those were towards the three of us.
"Calm down, Sudou-kun. You're doing your best, it's better not to move around carelessly".
"But...if we lost because of these useless guys it'll all be for nothing" Sudou replied.
Despite voicing his dissatisfaction, Sudou returns to his position. Perhaps Ike felt irritated by that attitude, but when Sudou could not see him anymore he flipped his middle finger at Sudou.
Seeing that, Yamauchi also flipped his middle finger at him.
"Oi, Haruki. It's the death sentence for you later".
But unfortunately he ended up looking back towards Yamauchi.
Furthermore, as if routing the enemy, once the game resumed the balls coming from the opponents once again flew towards Yamauchi.
"T-This can't be!?".
In the water he's not used to and under pressure from Sudou, Yamauchi could not eagerly chase after it.
"Damn it, it's pathetic when the girls are on the more useful side, don't you guys think that?".
Sudou, who has a strong presence in the field of athletics, released a blow that hollowed out our hearts like that. Nobody wants to look lame in front of the girls. But it doesn't mean anything. Just like how one cannot improve their intellect overnight, right now in this place I cannot simply improve my physical abilities. The ball once again descends onto my location. From the feeling of my failure the first time around, and assessing the surroundings for the receiving point I can extrapolate that as long as I watch the position of my arm and the rotation of the ball, only tossing it back up should theoretically not be a difficult thing to do.
I perceived the gently descending ball from that spot.
Then I properly received it---
But I did not overlook Ichinose's gaze peeking out from the enemy side. The instant I realized it, I deliberately chose to receive the ball in that spot in a clumsy manner.
I let my feet slip and ended up tumbling down in the pool.
"You're terrible, Ayanokouji".
As I got back up from underwater, Ike who was guarding the back laughed at me.
"Even if it's terrible or whatever as long as you toss it back up it's ok. You did good!".
Having been standing near me in case I tossed it back up, Sudou showed off several jumps I couldn't see well. A fierce attack.
Throughout the match, almost on his own he's moving halfway around the water court. Even though he should have used up a fair bit of his stamina, he once again repeats his special attack with a power I couldn't even see. He's overwhelming even the Class B which is superior in terms of teamwork ability on an equal or even superior level.
Looking over such a Sudou, I decided to amuse myself with volleyball for a while.
"Nyabu---. We lost. Completely".
As I got out of the pool, Ichinose approached me looking frustrated and said that. It was certainly just a game, but there were also unmistakably feelings of not wanting to lose to the other side that came out. It was the victory of Class D who consecutively won 2 sets.
"It was in the form of us almost relying completely on Sudou-kun though".
Near the Horikita who was honestly praising him, Sudou looked smug. He's probably happy to be praised by the girl he likes. This is even more true because it's coming from Horikita, who usually doesn't praise other people.
"You're in the basketball club, after all. There are some boys in our class who are in it also, but I've heard about you Sudou-kun. That you're the best out of al the 1st year students" Ichinose said.
It seems he's known to the other classes too and that's more important than anything else. In this volleyball match, no matter the feeling, I wonder if it ended up aiming for one significant thing. It means that Sudou's physical ability, which was already high initially, does not lose to those from the upper classes. It's a large harvest. If physical ability becomes part of an exam, Sudou will become a valuable weapon.
On the other side, looking at it from Ichinose's perspective, he becomes a scary existence that they must put a mark on.
"If you guys weren't pulling my leg, I could not have gotten a more thorough victory" Sudou said.
"Damn it, that Sudou's getting cocky just because he can do sports".
Yamauchi, who had collapsed on the pool side, looked at Sudou with a frustrated expression. It was because after the match, he received Sudou's attack and got knocked out.
Ultimately, charging in for the three of us who were pulling his leg was hard for him after all.
"Well, as long as we win that's good. That means we can eat whatever we want for lunch".
I guided Sudou's anger to collide with food. Let him eat more than the others. Ichinose and the others will be treating us after all.
"That's well, for us since we're broke that's something to be happy about".
It was a cheeky attitude for Sudou to take but undoubtedly he's made a big contribution in this match.
"So, there's nothing to do but uphold the promise. Shall we have lunch?".
Right on time, hunger struck our bellies with that timing. Ichinose and the others, Sudou and the others headed for the shop. Horikita and I slightly took our time in following them.
"Hey Ayanokouji-kun. You're not too bad at sports, right? Even if you're just a beginner in volleyball, those were some unnatural movements" she said.
A while back, Horikita saw me go for a round with her brother (although it's not really that much) and has remembered that exchange.
"Ichinose's strange mark on me was pretty strong. Just saying in case".
"So you're not going to show your hand. Right now, the other classes must be tripping over themselves in trying to analyze Class D's strength".
She nods as though convinced. Before long, as we arrived at the shop, Ichinose turned to look back.
"As promised, whatever you like, no matter the amount you want, you're free to eat" she said.
"Alright! Then we won't hold back!".
The 3 Idiots, more than the others, for the sake of their appetite, dashed as quickly as possible. Ichinose was looking at that sight with a smile.
"Could it be that you're going to bear all the cost?".
"Yeah. I'm the one who said that in the first place".
That may be true, but this is an amount of burden that one cannot stupidly bear.
"I usually make it a point to be frugal so everything's alright alright on that point".
Strangely listening to Ichinose's calm statement like that was Kushida.
"But Ichinose-san, didn't you use up a lot of points on your swimwear? I know I can't compare ourselves to Class B, but that's barely scraping by".
"Hmm. I'm not hung up on things like that, or you could say since I don't buy unnecessary things. As long as I do it in rotation there's no problem. Ahaha, that might be a bit of a problematic statement for a girl though".
"No such thing. Not buying unnecessary things is a very wonderful thing I think".
This might just be my prejudiced view, but in any case girls care about being fashionable. Kushida is also the same. Horikita is still indifferent but even she seems to pay attention to her hair and clothes.
"Because I don't know where in a more important place my points will be needed after all".
Ichinose declared that as such. That means, rather than buying a piece of clothing spending it here right now holds more meaning is what she's saying.
"Then, I'll also unreservedly be choosing my pick".
Horikita always has a small meal but since Class B is treating her she became aggressive in it.
"Ahaha. Yeah, it's ok. But it'd be bad to have leftovers so please stop that" Ichinose told her.
I'm not the same as Horikita but I'm very interested in junk food. I'll be choosing my pick.
N/T*: It's a sfx like a squelching sound one makes when in water or wet.
Upon closing hours, Ichinose suggested going back before it became crowded which everyone agreed on. While the others were preparing themselves, I secretly snuck out to the poolside waiting for my visitor.
"Ah, I’m tired……"
Soon, Karuizawa appeared slapping my back.
"Good work, how was it?"
"It was as you said. I’m feeling really disgusted about it."
"Don’t say that. You could say it’s the hot blood of youth flying off the handle."
Karuizawa, who stood beside me, made a sound as if vomiting then gave a look at her surroundings.
"So how was it? Been a long time since you last went to the pool?"
"It’s nothing, really. I don’t really feel anything but……"
She examined the area once more worryingly.
"Even though it’s a lie, I’m still seeing Hirata-kun. If I’m seen alone with you, weird rumours may start spreading, you know."
"Really? If I was as handsome as Hirata that may be so, though sadly to say, my presence is pretty bleak. We probably look like one of the groups who came to play at the pool."
This wasn’t a situation where a boy and a girl being together would mean something suspicious. It would be different if it was evening at a bench nobody frequented. Since it was crowded it was easy to blend in. By the way, Hirata, who acted as the boyfriend, was nowhere to see at the pool. Probably busy with the club. I don’t know about the soccer club practises but from what I’ve heard, he is one active guy.
"We were allowed to wear rash guards today, you saw some here and there, right?"
"Well, yeah. But are you alright with the money for this? Wasn’t it expensive?"
"It’s necessary expenses after all."
Karuizawa reached out her hand so I casually gripped it. I felt the hard texture of something on my palm. The whole ordeal didn’t last more than one second.
"What are you planning?"
"What do you mean?"
"Why are you different from the others, you could have enjoyed your happy little youth if you let it go, right"
I see. So we are moving the topic to what I was holding in my hand.
"Firstly, I have to make sure the class isn’t disadvantaged for now. Even if it’s a small thing, it may lead to mistrust between each other. That’s what I want to avoid."
That's why I called her here. Letting her enjoy the pool was also one of my aims.
"Did you invite someone else today?"
"It’s just me now. There were two others, but I had them disperse to have fun."
"A good call."
I began walking by the poolside. She hurried after me.
"Are you aiming for class A then?"
"You not interested?"
"Hmm, I don’t know. Points are always good to have and I’d be happy to land a job but…"
With her hands in her pockets, she kicked the air.
"I’m not very interested in fighting those guys from class C, I think."
If she was to face them again, the memory of that incident will resurface, thus making her unable to show her true potential, unless the curse binding her is lifted.
"I want to talk to you about something."
"I don’t know what the next exam will entail, but I will be preparing the arrangements for a certain plan."
While walking, blending in with the surroundings, I put the unusually important things into words. I haven’t even told Horikita about it.
"To expel someone."
She froze for a second, maybe from not quite understanding what I said. Realising that I didn’t stop, she hurried after me.
"W-wait, what did you mean by that?!"
"Exactly what I said. I’m going to force the expulsion of a first year. The idealistic ones would be those three girls who know about your past. If that won’t work, then someone else. If that’s impossible then—"
"Then some useless humans from class D."
"You even understand what you are saying? It’s not easy to expel someone in the first place."
"Is that so? Not really. I have such a way available to me right now."
I clenched my fist, making her turn her attention to it.
"You mean, that what it was for…?"
"Depending on the situation I could get the expulsion in a swipe. Right?"
"B-but, wait a bit. How did it come to this? Didn’t you make every effort to save him earlier?"
I did indeed rescue him from his expulsion crisis. But that was in the past when I didn’t need to aim for class A. I’m preparing to make my way, even though it may be temporarily, to that class. Which means cutting away the useless existences is mandatory. As Horikita once told me.
"Even after saving Sudou, you are going to kick him off?"
"Nah, not Sudou. A human with his physical strength is important for the class."
There aren’t many students in the other classes that have physical abilities comparable to him. Kouenji aside, Sudou, with his high potential, is an important existence.
"What will happen to our class points if someone is expelled…?"
"Well of course, the best option would be to expel someone from the other classes."
Though having said that, if someone from our class gets expelled, the rest would work their hardest to not undergo the same treatment. That wouldn’t exactly be bad either.
"You are horrible you know?"
"You should know that already, right?"
I threatened her, my actions even approached rape. I don’t think she has a good impression of me.
"How about consulting Hirata?"
"I wonder about that. Hirata isn’t someone I can fully trust as of now."
"You know about his past?"
"Ah, yes. He told me about it when I talked about my past. His friend commited suicide, right?"
Indeed. He told me the story, as if he was regretting or repenting. That was probably true.
"In that case, did his friend’s suicide lead him to become a defective student and end up in class D?"
"That wouldn’t be the reason for a smart and popular person like him to end up in our class."
It would have been understandable if he had lots of absences and low grades like Karuizawa, but I haven’t heard anything like that of him. No traces of it either. Thus I can’t trust him at this stage.
"So that’s why you asked my about my past yesterday…"
"To assess Hirata’s situation. A trauma in the past doesn’t equal a seat in class D."
After confirming that with Karuizawa I was convinced she was a trustworthy person. The problem is with Hirata. He would be very difficult to deal with. I have no idea if he speaks the truth or lies so I have to figure him out discreetly.
"You are really extracting answers from me when you don’t even tell me anything."
"You are not normal either. Something must have happened to you as well, that's what I think."
"That’s a lie."
Nothing. There was no bullying like in her case, there was no attempted suicide like Hirata’s beloved friend either.
"I know it from looking at your eyes. You can even kill people without hesitation, that’s what I feel from you."
"So violent. Nothing that dramatic happened in my past either."
It was truly nothing. So little I cannot even talk about it. Just a "Pure White" existence. Her eyes was gripping onto me as she watched me. She was probably quite interested in the continuation. There was no doubt that holding onto this would affect the later events.
However—. What are you going to do with it? As if to answer the feelings behind this question, I clenched my fist even harder. The plastic made a screeching sound as it was bent and mangled.
I went to a garbage bin close by and threw away the plastic bits.
"I won’t expel anyone from class D. I need to go back to my group. Thanks for today."
"That’s fine too, I guess…"
"Let’s return then."
It was approaching the closing hours and the students were flowing out from the changing rooms. Which group you belonged to influenced when you left. The group returning before closing hours like Ichinose, the group that returned once the time was up or the group leaving right before it closed. I wonder which group is the fastest.
We were, on the other hand, seeing the leaving back of the students off. After a while, there were none left except for the pool lifeguards.
"Not leaving yet?"
"You know the answer already so why ask? I have some circumstances on my own to consider when changing."
She said, in a bit frustrated tone, as she patted her jacket on the part that hid the scar. She couldn’t show this to anyone. That’s why she couldn’t use the congested changing rooms. That being said, she couldn’t go home without changing. Thus being the last to change was the only solution.
"You can swim in that competition swimsuit, right?"
There would be no need to worry about her scar drawing attention.
"It looks so lame so that’s impossible, no way! I already hate it when we have to wear it during lessons, why do I have wear it during my spare time too, so lame."
Seems the girls have their own kind of hardships to consider. For Karuizawa who feared dropping in the class caste system, a swimsuit that showed little was a necessity.
"You like swimming?"
"Ha? Well, I don’t exactly hate it."
In that case she could at least swim.
"How about taking a swim? There are nobody here except for the lifeguards and they are busy cleaning up."
She probably aware of the congestion so she wouldn’t blame me for it immediately.
"As I said… I’m fine already!"
"You will be fine being seen with that swimsuit of yours."
"That’s not the problem, why do I have to show you my swimsuit…?"
It seems that was her problem. In that case, should I use a more forceful method to let her swim?
"That’s an order."
Once those words came out, she glared harshly at me.
"You really are the worst, I hate you!"
"You decide on whether to obey or not, which would it be?"
She unwillingly followed my forceful order. Her lips pouting in dissatisfaction. She removed her rash guard and left it on a chair. I looked at her swimsuit appearance. She was standing with her back facing me, not intending to turn around.
"Maybe I will have to wear this swimsuit for the rest of my life…"
She couldn’t use the other kinds even if she liked them. Her scar would draw attention and she feared she would be asked about it. I moved close to her and forcibly grabbed her arm.
Then I pulled her towards the pool and pushed her into the water. Splash! The water sprayed. A lifeguard heard the splash and came towards us with a megaphone in his hand.
"We are closing! Please leave now!"
"Puhaa! What are you doing!"
As the angry face of a girl surfaced, I gave her my hands.
"Did you have fun?"
"You think being pulled into the water is fun?"
She grabbed my hand without hesitation. Then she pulled me towards her, in other words, into the water. I didn’t resist, I just let her pull me down. Even so, I made sure to not crash into her as I fell. The even bigger splash would surely be enough to enrage the lifeguards even more. Watching the lifeguards rushing in, Karuizawa laughed. She then caught sight of me surfacing and then pushed me down, sinking me into the water again. I think it was very childish even for me, but seeing her smiling face for just a little moment made me think it was worth it after all.
Having finished going for a round of swimming in the pool, perhaps it's due to having exhausted myself but I felt incredibly thirsty. The other members must have felt the same too, as on our way back from the dusk-lit pool one of Ichinose's friends said this reservedly.
"Hey Honami-chan, I'm thinking I want to have some ice cream, how about it?".
"That's right---I think I might want to have some too".
Even though I'd say we were refreshed, there was still a seething heat left.
"If you're fine with it, why don't have make a detour before going back?".
Seeing a convenience store nearby, she said that. Perhaps everyone had the same idea as her as there were no objections. As we entered the store together, the members of the group all rushed to the ice cream corner. Horikita entered, seemingly conflicted about whether to have a drink but now exactly like her surroundings, it seems she now wants to have ice cream.
"I'll have this! The Ultra Choco Monaka!".
Ike extended his hands and grasped an ice cream that was 3 times the standard size. The price of it was almost 4 times the standard one. I did feel like it was just a loss but if the person in question is satisfied with it then that's fine.
Sudou and Yamauchi chose to have kakigori while Ichinose chose to have ice candy. Even in such a place, I found it interesting that each of their personal idiosyncrasies were slipping into view. From behind my back, Sakura was looking on hesitantly.
"What'll you be doing?".
"Umm, w-what should I do?".
She flailed around in panic but it's natural that she would not be able to answer. Because from a slight distance away, Sakura was eagerly standing on her tiptoes to look into the ice cooler and see its contents. It's just whether or not she could see a part of it from my point of view. Ike and the others, at a slight distance away, were lightly stretching their backs.
Since she seems to be having a difficult time buying ice cream, I followed up for her and together we chose our ice cream. Sakura seems to be confused and her hands were shaking.
"I wonder what I should do......".
"Do you dislike it? Ice cream" I asked her.
"No, I like them all. I've probably eaten all of the ones around here" she said while pointing towards the right half of the case.
As we were doing so, Horikita, who had also remained behind, chose her ice cream and went to the counter.
"Hurry up already---. You'll get left behind---".
Having finished paying, Ike says that jokingly. Towards that statement, perhaps Sakura received it nervously as she becomes more pronouncedly rushed in her actions.
"Umm, ummmm.....sorry.....I'm, at a time like this, I'm the type to take my time when choosing.....".
"There's no need to panic. He's just joking. I haven't decided yet either".
"Ayanokouji-kun, what will you be having then......?".
Taking my attention off Sakura for a moment, I glanced at the contents of the case. Honestly, all I could see were that most of them looked identical to each other.
"I'll have this I suppose".
As I answered her, what I took into my hands was the standard soft cream. The one with the milk coiled around it round and round. There were also ones with chocolate mixed into them but let's leave those for next time.
"S-So, I'll have those too then. Because it's delicious" Sakura said.
I did feel like I forced her into making that choice, but if Sakura is satisfied with it then all is fine I suppose. Having made our purchase and gone outside, together with everyone we gathered in the open space of the convenience store and began to eat. Opening up the cup, and ferrying the soft cream into my mouth, I felt the soft milk melt and spread out inside me.
The sweetness and coldness that could end up being a bad habit seeps through my body. Honestly, this is revolutionary. I never knew ice cream was something this delicious.
It's just eating too much seems like it'll be bad for your body though.....
"You sure are eating it like it's that delicious---. It's almost like you're eating it for the first time in your life".
"I'm sure anyone would find this delicious. If it's in this simmering heat".
As a matter of fact, that would be obvious if you look at the figure that's eating it up this peacefully.
"I guess---. It's just you're eating it like it's so delicious, you see. It's the first time I've seen an expression like that".
"It's because he's like a doll. He never changes his expressions".
I received such an interjection from someone who's the same doll-type as me. I really can't accept this. But despite that, perhaps it seems their opinions aligned, but Horikita and Ichinose were happily chatting away. Their topic changed from me to the upcoming second semester.
"Hey Ichinose, it's fine to talk and all but your ice cream's in a terrible shape".
"Wawa, it's real!".
It was only a matter of time before her ice candy melted in this heat. Panicking, Ichinose quickly licked the liquid that was dripping and put the stick into her mouth.
Perhaps she's expressing her gratitude while mumbling? She's saying something like that. It seemed delicious even as the ice dripped onto the asphalt and left stains on top of it.
"It was a good day, today was fun. Right, everyone?".
"Yeah. It was fun being able to talk to Horikita-san and Sakura-san. Let's play together again".
The girls of Class B seemed to have spent the last day of the vacations satisfactorily since they thanked us. Sakura, too, seemed to have opened up a little since she showed a small smile.
On the other hand, Ike and Yamauchi, as well as Sudou, seemed to be uneasy as after some farewells they got into the elevator.
"Ayanokouji, we'll be coming to play in your room later".
Leaving behind such an unnecessary word, they left.
"I wonder what happened? I got a more cheerful impression from them though".
"Today they seemed especially strange. It seems a certain someone knows what the matter is though".
They slighly glanced towards me, but I persisted in making no comments on it. I have various reasons for it.
"Then, I'll see you again at school, Ayanokouji-kun".
"See you again tomorrow then.....".
Parting ways with Kushida and Sakura too, only me and Horikita were left in the lobby. I had thought she had only stayed behind to avoid Kushida but even when another elevator arrived she made no move to get on.
"You're not going back?"
"How about you? If you're fine with it, when don't we have a little walk?".
"I guess so".
As I left the lobby with Horikita once again, while looking up at the sky dyed by the color of the sunset we walked along a tree-lined road.
"I had fun today. Occasionally it might not be too bad to have such a vacation too" she said.
That is, as the person in question admits too, a most surprising statement. Horikita speaks slowly as her hair which had not fully dried yet flutters.
"From tomorrow, the second semester begins. Surely a tougher battle than the first semester awaits us".
"I suppose so".
The school should have normally given the newly enrolled students easy-to-understand, simple tests. Yet the survival test on the uninhabited island, or having us deceive one another on the cruise ship, only tests far removed from ordinary high school students continued to be repeated. There's no way of knowing how much hardship awaits us from now.
"I've been thinking various things over the summer vacation. The things I have done, I was able to do".
"And what could you tell from that?" I asked her.
"That's a secret.....even if I told you, you'd only laugh at me".
Perhaps there was something she thought was shameful, but saying that she dodged the question.