Y2 Vol 6 English Chap 6

Chapter Six: The Visitor

It was around 11:00 a.m., and I could faintly hear the cheers coming from outside the closed window. The sports festival seems to have been quite a success. Not everything went smoothly, but the class still put in a lot of effort to win.

We can compete well with other classes and grades. It was because of this that I was able to choose not to attend the sports festival without hesitation.

I’ve already made all the arrangements, so I’ll leave the rest to Chairman Sakayanagi.

Although I don’t necessarily have full trust in him, I don’t have a choice since it’s practically impossible for me to stay in this school if he betrays me. The only thing that remains to be seen is what kind of battle the second year students will have at the sports festival, and what results they will leave behind. I wondered how Sakayanagi’s participation or non- participation would affect the outcome of the event.

I looked at the entrance to my dorm once.

“I’ve tried to contain her, but I’ll see the effect now...”

There are a lot of things that are bothering me, but I guess I’ll just have to wait and see what happens at the festival.

It’s time to start preparing for lunch. Just as I was beginning to think that, the doorbell finally rang.

I wondered if I should welcome this visitor or not. I couldn’t tell until I answered the door.

“Hello, Ayanokōji-kun.”

As I kept my distance from the doorway, I heard a voice calling my name.

I lowered my guard slightly and put my hand on the door. I tried to think of various situations, but once I saw who it was, I relaxed.

On the other side of the door, there was only Arisu Sakayanagi in plain clothes, smiling up at me.

“If you don’t mind, may I interrupt you for a moment? Even though I’m only forbidden to leave the dormitory, visiting a man’s room during a sports festival is a bit of a problem.”

“Going inside is even more of a problem, though.”

Despite saying that, I decided to welcome Sakayanagi in without turning her away.

“I’m sorry to disturb you.” Sakayanagi, who is physically disabled, slowly takes off her shoes and walks into the room.

“Come to think of it, this is the first time you’ve been in my room.” “I don’t usually get to visit you, you know. Have you eaten lunch?” “I was just about to get ready.”

“I see. I’m glad to hear that. Here, it’s a souvenir.” She said, handing me a small plastic bag.

“I bought it at a convenience store early this morning. It seems to be a new product, and since it’s a good opportunity, I wanted to share it with you.”

I looked into the plastic bag from above and saw two small Mont Blancs in it.

If it’s Mont Blanc, I’d better make some coffee.

“A bed would be better than sitting on the floor. You can sit on it if you

like.”

“Thank you for your consideration.”

After getting Sakayanagi to sit on the bed, I stood in the kitchen and

twisted the faucet to start pouring water into the pot.

“You don’t seem to have come to visit me on a moment’s notice, do

you?”

She had an innocent look on her face, but Sakayanagi gave a small

chuckle of amusement.

“Normally, I don’t really visit dormitories, and as the leader of Class A, I can’t really be seen visiting Ayanokōji-kun’s room alone.”

No matter who you are, if you see Sakayanagi like that, you will be surprised and have a hunch.

That’s why Sakayanagi never usually came in contact with me in the

dorm.

Until this moment.

“You’re a really bad person, Ayanokōji-kun…this is Ayanokōji-kun’s strategy, isn’t it?”

“Strategy? What do you mean?”

“Huh, no need for small talk. Let it be known that I knew Ayanokōji- kun knew that I would be here today, and that I’d skip the festival. You were sure of it, weren’t you?”

As far as Sakayanagi was concerned, she could see that it was a trap without having to think about it.

“In this sports festival, we, Class A, with our small number of students, are at a disadvantage at the starting line. Furthermore, there are students like Kitō-kun and Hashimoto-kun who show promise, but their average is not enough to reach Horikita-san’s class. If that’s the case, what you need to do in order to win is to determine who will be participating in which competitions, as well as the participation of your rivals in the show, and manage your schedule periodically.”

I turned on the pot and quietly began to boil the water. I grabbed a jar of coffee powder from the cupboard and prepared a cup and filter.

“Then again, you never know how things will turn out if I join in, you know.”

“You still have a high self-esteem, don’t you?”

“The best way to ensure that the other classes beat Class A is to not have me participate in the sports festival.”

The sports festival must proceed under a precise schedule, because Sakayanagi is capable of placing and directing the assembly personnel in the right places in her mind. Besides, she would be able to coordinate the participants of the competition using students from other grades.

“Last night, my father told me that he asked Ayanokōji-kun to be absent. He said he was assigning security to the dormitory to prevent any contact with the people being sent from the White Room as guests.”

“It’s true that I was asked by Chairman Sakayanagi not to participate in the sports festival, but I didn’t expect him to tell his daughter about it as well.”

“I dearly hope you don’t take me as a fool, Ayanokōji-kun. It was you who instructed my father to tell me what I just said, wasn’t it?”

Have you read through our moves as a matter of course? No matter how much he loves her, Chairman Sakayanagi would never do something like mixing public and private affairs. That’s why I asked Chairman Sakayanagi to let her know what was really going on, instead of telling her myself.

I asked him to explain the situation beforehand in case Sakayanagi, who might be absent from the sports festival due to physical reasons, gets an idea to get into trouble with me and the White Room.

Sakayanagi was willing to participate as the leader of Class A, but I don’t think the chairman knew about it. Even if he did know, it would be safer to tell her that she could take a sudden leave of absence on the day of the sports festival. If it was his own daughter, he would have known that there was a risk of her getting involved.

However, there was something that Chairman Sakayanagi could not fully understand. Sakayanagi’s instincts and curiosity are not something that can be easily suppressed. And if I’m not going to be there, it’s not surprising that she thinks it’s a good opportunity to talk to me without being disturbed.

In fact, this is how she showed up at my room, one of the most dangerous places in the school at the moment, without any fear.

“Did you choose to come before noon just to make me feel uneasy?”

“I was trying to be a little mean. I wanted to make you think that maybe I was ignoring Ayanokōji-kun’s strategy and participating in the sports festival.”

“So that’s how it is.”

“By the way, everyone is present today except for myself and Ayanokōji-kun.”

With the information network that Sakayanagi possessed, it seemed that someone had confirmed the participants of each class and reported the details via cell phone before the sports festival. They’re not slacking on that front either.

“I was a little mean, but I was actually planning to visit you a little earlier.”

Sakayanagi said, just as the water in the pot started to boil and make a gurgling sound.

“I just went down to the lobby to check on the situation outside.”

As I was ostensibly on sick leave, it was strictly forbidden for me to go outside my room. Sakayanagi, on the other hand, is also not allowed to leave the dormitory, but she is not absent in the form of sick leave. Even if she is warned for going out, it does not violate the reason for her absence.

“So, how did things go downstairs?”

“There were three people who seemed to be security guards with me. They seem to be stationed throughout the school, not just in this dormitory, so it shouldn’t look particularly unnatural.”

While including the purpose of protecting me, the people in the guard are only there to protect government officials.

“The Distinguished Service Award for this sports festival wasn’t Horikita- san, who offered cooperation to Ryūen-kun, nor Ryūen-kun, who accepted it. It was Ayanokōji-kun’s single word that made me become an absentee. That was the only thing that decided the winner, so it is as expected.”

“You still don’t know how it will be settled, do you?”

“It’s true that there are always upsets, but they are unlikely. By now, Class A is probably at the mercy of Horikita-san’s class, who is fighting head-on, and Ryūen-kun’s class, who is doing everything they can think of. Even if you have excellent arms and legs, you can’t do anything without a brain. That’s the class I’m building, you know.”

Something similar could be said about Ryūen, but that’s the problem with too much power at the top. The fact that the leader solves all of the problems means, on the flip side, that nothing can be solved without the leader.

“Well, that’s okay. Because this time, I will enjoy my time with Ayanokōji-kun instead of claiming 150 points.” She didn’t seem as if she cared about the damage that Class A would suffer.

“You’re not afraid of losing class points, are you?”

“This school system is an extension of play for me. As long as I can maintain my Class A status to some extent, I don’t have any problems.”

I took the Mont Blanc out of the pack and transferred it to a plate, and placed two of them on the table. Then I poured hot water from the pot into the filter with the coffee grounds.

“You’re pretty good at this, aren’t you?” “It’s no big deal. At least this much.”

“Is each of these preparations fresh and fun for Ayanokōji-kun?”

Sakayanagi could tell that this was something I would never do in the White Room.

“It’s like everything else in school. I just wanted to do something normal, that’s all.”

Still, Sakayanagi’s words from earlier bothered me.

“You have a sense of purpose to keep Class A. Is that Sakayanagi’s pride?” I ask her about that as I place the milk and sugar stick on the table.

“At first, I didn’t have any commitment to Class A. But when I found out that Ayanokōji-kun was in this school, it turned into a goal. When Ayanokōji-kun eventually leads the class up to Class B, we might be able to fight for real.”

To put it simply, she’ll wait on the throne.

“In the first semester of the first year, Class D gave up all of their class points. However, after a certain point, they began to increase their class points and eventually rose to Class B. The reason for this was, of course, the dark presence of Ayanokōji-kun.” She speaks eloquently and happily as if she were bragging about herself. Picking up a plate from the table, Sakayanagi placed the Mont Blanc on her lap. “Let’s eat together, Ayanokōji- kun.”

She asked me to sit next to her, so I sat down on the bed without complaint. She stabbed the Mont Blanc with her fork and scooped it up, then held it out to me.

“Here you go, say aaaah.” “What are you doing?”

“Can’t you see it? Please eat it.” “No, I can see it, but...”

“It’s just me and Ayanokōji-kun now, and no one will bother us.”

I wondered if there was something behind this, but that didn’t seem to be the case. I bite down on the fork into my mouth and the sweet aroma spreads. Surprisingly, it was the first time I had ever eaten Mont Blanc.

“Is it good?”

To be honest, I don’t really like the taste that much. Personally, I thought a simple shortcake had a more agreeable taste. But I don’t want to be stingy with my souvenirs.

“Of course.”

Sakayanagi smiles lightly as I simply tell her it’s delicious.

“Then I’ll have some, too.”

Without caring about the fork that I used to eat, she scooped up her own portion and put it in her mouth.

“It’s not as good as the ones at the café, but as a convenience store sweet, it’s passable.” She nodded in satisfaction and held out her fork to me again.

We easily finished the first Mont Blanc, as we both ate one cake at a

time.

“I’ll bring you another cake next time.” “Huh?”

“Since Ayanokōji-kun’s reaction was that it didn’t seem to suit his

palate very well.”

“I thought I responded with a normal, delicious response.”

“I’m proud to say that I still have excellent insight into this. Especially when it comes to Ayanokōji-kun.”

I didn’t expect her to be able to see through what I was feeling iffy about.

“You never show any gaps when you’re really playing with your thoughts, but in this kind of private life, you’re surprisingly hard to see past.”

“Maybe it’s because I’m not used to it after all.”

“Huh. I like that part of you, too.” I can’t tell if she’s serious or joking, so Sakayanagi continues. “Please let me have my revenge next time. If I find a good cake, I’ll bring it to you.”

“I wish there was a time when I could reliably avoid the public eye like

this.”

Regardless of weekdays and holidays, it’s nearly impossible unless it’s

when people are out of the dorm. Or there’s also the line of early mornings and late nights, but that also brings up its own issues.

“But what’s strange is Ayanokōji-kun’s change of heart. How is it that you not only occasionally help others in their school life when you were supposed to be quiet, but also started to aim for Class A in earnest?”

“I guess there are some things you don’t understand.”

“I’m not a goddess. And because I know Ayanokōji-kun’s situation, there are parts of it that I don’t understand and my thinking hasn’t been able to keep up. Could you please tell me about it?”

The genius, driven by the quest for the unknown, wants an answer. The main reason why Sakayanagi is not interested in the Class A or Dranks is probably because she won’t benefit from them after graduation. As the daughter of the school’s chairman and a talented student herself, most things are within reach for Sakayanagi.

She doesn’t care because she doesn’t have to use her Class A privileges to do anything. I’m sure I’ll be back in the White Room after graduation, but I know that Class A privileges don’t mean anything to me.

“It may seem strange.”

“It’s not so that you can play around with a lot of private points like Kōenji-kun, is it?”

“Surely he’s in a similar position to the rest of us, right?”

He is the type of person who grabs and holds on to his parents’ power

and his own talent alone. Kōenji, such as he is, occasionally contributes to the class on a whim for class points.

“I suppose you at least have the right to ask why I decided to contribute to the class. You took advantage of an obvious trap and gave up half of your winnings in the festival.”

If she risked losing 150 points and gained nothing, there was no way she would help going forward. However, if I give her a sprinkling of bait here, I can leave a chance for her to get on board if we follow the same strategy again.

“If I get an answer to my question, I’ll come back here the next time it happens.”

“Don’t say what I was just thinking.” “Fufufu.”

“Basically, Sakayanagi, it’s exactly what you’re trying to do. You’re trying to answer the question of what it means to be a genius by defeating me. I’m trying to prove in my own way that White Room education is not perfect.”

I can’t sense surprise from Sakayanagi. It was evident that she had been expecting that line of thinking, even if it wasn’t confirmed.

“Are you saying that Ayanokōji-kun is trying to create the strongest class with his own hands?”

Nodding in the affirmative, Sakayanagi puts her index finger to her

lips.

“It’s not that I haven’t thought about it, but... there are a few questions that remain.”

“Go on.”

“This sports festival. Despite the circumstances, Ayanokōji-kun could have forced himself to participate. Wouldn’t it have been better to fly instructions directly to the scene to make the victory rate higher and more solid? And I’m sure he wasn’t afraid of my participation.”

“I spent this sports festival based on one theme.” “Interesting story. What is the theme?”

“Stillness. I decided it would be a good opportunity to see how well they could compete on their own, without interfering directly in the festival. Your absence was a byproduct of that, I suppose.”

“It’s just that I came to see Ayanokōji-kun for being quiet, and he didn’t do anything directly regarding the content of the sports festival. I see.”

As we were talking, Sakayanagi arrived at the conclusion one step ahead of what someone else in her position woulds.

“In other words-“

I lightly pushed Sakayanagi, who was about to give her answer. No, it’s not as if I’m exaggerating when I say I pushed her. I just lightly grabbed both of her shoulders and pushed her backwards, causing the weak Sakayanagi to fall backwards onto the bed unbearably.

The sound from the mattress and the faint creaking of metal. Even Sakayanagi, who prides herself on being a genius, would not have thought of this action at all.

I looked down at Sakayanagi as if she was covering me before I could catch up with her understanding.

“Oh, my...?”

Sakayanagi, who was always so strong and relaxed, wasn’t keeping up with the changes in the situation.

“I’m living my school life under my plan. The fact that you came here today, that you were interested in the plan, that there was a possibility, a route, to get to the answer...”

Sakayanagi, who has never been handled by a man before, clears her throat from impatience and nervousness.

“If you tell anyone else about this now, it will interfere with my plans.” “You think I’m going to tell anyone about...?”

“The chances of that are probably not zero at the moment. If you threaten me with a match with the conditional I don’t want to be exposed, I can’t choose any other option but to accept.”

00018.jpeg

“I see, that’s certainly true. But if you’re willing to force a match with that kind of talk, can’t you talk about the White Room stuff?”

“No, that won’t work. Even if I make the existence of such a facility known, it’s not something that other people can understand. It’s also not a risk I’m willing to take personally.”

Kiyotaka Ayanokōji was raised in a White Room institution.

Most people would probably just nod their heads and shrug if they heard such a story. It’s not something you can search up on the Internet.

It would create some confusion in Sakayanagi’s case, but of course it would do nothing for me.

“I’m not at the stage where I want people to know what I’m planning to do. I can’t let you use that as an excuse to extort me.”

I closed the distance to Sakayanagi a little, and the light from the ceiling combined to create a deep shadow.

“Well, now I have come to know. What do you want me to do about...?”

“A secret for a secret. A threat for a threat. The only people left in this dormitory right now are you and me. That means that no matter what happens here, no one will come to our aid. Even if you shout out loud, at best it will only be audible in the hallway.”

“Are you going to commit a crime to protect your plan?” “Crime? You and I have an agreement to share our secrets.” She pulls out her phone and activates the camera.

“Do you think you can escape?”

Sakayanagi is a cripple. No, even if both of her legs were fine, there was no way for Sakayanagi to get out.

How could she answer in this hopeless situation? “Do you think you can beat me?”

“Can I win?”

“I mean, if things were to go as Ayanokōji-kun envisioned here, would you really have the upper hand...?”

“I’m sorry, but you don’t stand a chance.”

“A slight difference in experience, for example, can be caught up with and overtaken by one way of learning. In fact, you might even learn that you’ve been studying the wrong way, right?”

Even though she was in a tight spot, Sakayanagi continued to think as calmly as possible. She must be in a hurry, but it’s impressive that she’s been able to keep it under control so far.

I throw the phone down the bed and slowly move my hand closer to Sakayanagi. I grab her by the shoulders and bring her to the collar of my neck.

Even so, Sakayanagi only averted her gaze. “Shall we begin our special lesson?”

Smiling wryly, Sakayanagi closed her eyes quietly without resisting.

1

“You really are a mean person, aren’t you?” “Maybe so.”

It had been about an hour since Sakayanagi had come to my room. “So now there’s a secret between me and Ayanokōji-kun that I can’t

tell anyone~”

“That’s a wordy way of putting it.”

“The one who first caused the misuse of the word is none other than Ayanokōji-kun, isn’t it?”

“Indeed.”

“Then again, this is the first time I’ve ever been in a man’s bed.” “You were out in ten seconds, it doesn’t even matter.”

“That’s taking the girl’s memorial lightly, isn’t it?”

I show Sakayanagi the screen of my phone as I select and dispose of the necessary items. Perhaps because I slid it too far forward in the process, a picture of me and Kei was shown.

It was a picture of the two of us at the Keyaki Mall.

“It seems that your relationship with Kei Karuizawa-san is going well.”

“Well, I guess so.”

Sakayanagi continued, looking at the picture of Kei smiling happily. “Ayanokōji-kun was attracted to her either by her appearance, voice, or

personality. That’s what I would normally think, but there are some things that don’t quite add up.”

After that, Sakayanagi looked up at me and her eyes were sharp, as if she was fighting me.

“I’ve looked into her as much as I can. From how she spends her time after school to how she spends her days off. And now Ayanokōji-kun is in a situation where he can easily follow her.”

As long as the entire third year was monitoring me, I couldn’t pay attention to every single thing. If Sakayanagi’s secret agent was mixed in, it would be difficult to distinguish them.

Even if it was Hashimoto, who had noticed the tail before, or someone else, there was no way to identify them.

“I have not been able to find out the truth about why Ayanokōji-kun chose to go out with her, but I have been able to see some things. The strong trust and love she has for him can be described as delusional. Is he going to use her to conduct some kind of experiment, or is he trying to save her? I guessed it was something like that.”

I don’t remember giving them any unnecessary information. I don’t think she knows the details, such as Kei or Ryūen. I don’t know how she could have guessed so close to the truth in that situation.

“That’s what your special lesson for me is about, isn’t it?” “I’m getting tired of using the word special, but you’re right.”

Unlike Kei, Sakayanagi and I are able to communicate without words.

Ding dong.

A dumb, tension-free chime sounded suddenly in the room.

It was around half past twelve, and the students would be finishing their meals by now.

There was no one left in the dormitory, but suddenly a visitor appeared.

Sakayanagi and I looked at each other and then at the front door at the same time. There were supposed to be three bodyguards waiting in the lobby, but did they force their way in? No, even if they had used their great skills to subdue him by force, the problem didn’t stop there. They would not take their time to ring the doorbell, they would at least try to break in.

The doorbell rang once more.

Since I was supposed to be resting in my room, it would be strange to ignore it any longer. It is possible, though unlikely, that it is someone from the school.

“Who is it?” I call out to the visitor, not moving from my position on the bed.

“Stay where you are and listen.”

The man replied, as if he could tell from his voice that I was sitting far away from the entrance.

A young voice. Not an adult, but the same age. “That voice sounds familiar.”

But a figure did not come to mind. It sounded like a student, and even though I didn’t recognize him, the voice was distinctly familiar. Of course, when you live in a school, you hear many unspecified voices.

However, I immediately recognize the owner of this voice. “You called me once, didn’t you?”

I ask back, and the figure on the other side of the doorway remains silent for a bit.

“That’s great, you remember my voice after hearing it only once.”

The fact that it was after my father had visited this school was also impressive.

“You didn’t say what you wanted then.”

“It was a good thing I didn’t, but something inconvenient happened soon after. I haven’t been in touch with you since then, but if you’re wondering, it doesn’t matter who I am. Because I’m neither your friend nor your enemy.”

“Then what are you doing here?”

“You just need to get rid of Tsukishiro and then the White Room students, and peace will return. I came here to advise you because I thought you might have made that mistake.”

“Oh my. That sounds like a very fun adventure. Would you be willing to let me join you?”

“Arisu Sakayanagi, huh?”

The man on the other side of the door showed no sign of being upset by Sakayanagi’s unexpected response. Rather, he immediately guessed who it was just by hearing her voice. Perhaps he had narrowed down the list of absentees for the day, or perhaps he knew Sakayanagi and recognized her voice.

“Anyway, be on the lookout if you want to stay in school until graduation.”

“For a neutral, you’ve got a lot on your shoulders, don’t you?”

“Your presence is having a negative impact. I’m just trying to prevent more of it...” He replied as his voice trailed off. Apparently, he didn’t intend to stay long, and it could be assumed that he had left.

“That voice, I’ve heard it somewhere...” “Do you have any idea who the voice is?”

“I can’t answer that as clearly as Ayanokōji-kun. But I think I vaguely remembered the presence that came through the door.”

So it’s something different from what I remembered from the voice. “It’s not a recent memory, it’s a reasonably old memory, five, ten years

anyway.”

“If you’re sure about that, then the possibility of a White Room student seems infinitesimally small.”

“Yes. If I’ve ever come face-to-face with one when I was little, then

yes.”

His reaction to learning of Sakayanagi’s existence was somewhat

affirming. In addition to the fact that he wasn’t surprised, he reacted like he would to someone he was acquainted with. But whether it’s Amasawa or the other one, it’s not something I care about.

As long as there was no harm done to me at the moment, I couldn’t do anything about it.

2

The sports festival, in which I was not present, ended in an almost ideal way. The class was excited by the final result, which was unthinkable in the past year and a half.

The gap between Horikita’s class and Class A had narrowed, and Horikita’s class had been able to increase their class points through the desert island exam, the unanimous special exam, and the sports festival, which was undoubtedly a great asset.

A few days later, it was the middle of October.

The ranking of the sports festival was Horikita’s class in first place, Ryūen’s class in second place, Ichinose’s class in third place, and Sakayanagi’s class in fourth place. Of course, this was not due to any one person, but to the will and power of the entire class. In the individual

competition, the pair of Sudō and Onodera took first place respectively.

Kōenji also achieved first place in all ten events, but because they were all individual competitions, he ended up in second place.

That seemed to be good enough for him, and he never had any problems.

Sudō and Onodera were then given the right to move to a different class, but he chose private points without hesitation. Although Sudō was unsteady, he was making his way up the ladder to Class A.

Kei, who seemed to have an appointment with a friend, decided to drop by the Keyaki Mall on her way home.

As she was about to head home alone, I was approached by Horikita. “I’d like to talk to you for a minute, if that’s okay.”

“If you don’t mind, we can talk on the way back.” “That’s fine.”

I guess it’s not something that can be overheard by a lot of people since she approached me when I was leaving.

“I’ve learned a great deal from the last unanimous special exam.” “Let’s hear it, shall we?”

The sports festival was over, but not all of the problems had been solved, and the class was starting to move forward, although it still left a precarious situation, one that Horikita was still struggling with and learning from.

“I wasn’t wrong. I made the choice to keep Kushida-san, and I was able to recognize once again that the decision was the right one.”

In the face of the demand for results, Kushida also contributed to the sports festival by increasing her points.

In her daily school life, she has once again returned to being a serious honor student, and although her social contribution in OAA was lowered at the beginning of October, it is probably only a matter of time before she regains it from here.

If you want to make an unrelenting comparison, she has contributed far more as a classmate than Airi. Of course, it’s not all merit.

“I know, I know. I’m leaving a few uncertainties behind. Especially with Hasebe-san, I honestly don’t know what to do yet. But if there’s another special exam like that, I think I’ll be able to get around it better next time.”

“What’s your rationale for that?”

“In that exam, I made an ill-advised promise to get unanimous approval. I said I would expel the traitor, and then I reneged on that. It was an easy shortcut to get unanimity, but I didn’t understand the magnitude of the risk. I knew that Kushida-san was a traitor. And that I had made that decision while I hadn’t even had the courage to let her leave the school. That was a mistake.”

“If there was a possibility of leaving, then surely an ill-advised promise would only hurt you later on.”

It was a painful decision to make as time was running out, but if we had been able to make it unanimous at that stage, leaving open the possibility that there would be a footnote from Airi or someone who didn’t have similar abilities, it would be true that the aftereffects would not have been as bad as they are now.

What will we give up and what will we take?

“We gained class points. But I also lost many things. That special exam has taught me a lot. You’ve shown me both sides of success and failure.”

“It’s better not to fail, though.”

Horikita closes her eyes, exhales in a huff, then opens them again. “I’m only a sophomore in high school. I’m a kid. It’s okay to make

mistakes.”

“You’ve reopened your mind.”

“It’s not like me to dwell on it. I’m going to - I’m going to be me. I may not be able to do as well as the other leaders. But I have Hirata-kun, Karuizawa-san, Sudōu-kun, Onodera-san, Kushida-san and Kōenji-kun. With the support of these people, I am moving forward. Class A is waiting for me after that, that’s what I’ve decided to think.”

“I see.”

“Of course, you’re one of them. I don’t know what you’re thinking, and you’re uncooperative in many ways, but... you’re indispensable to the class and to me.”

I’m like training wheels on a bicycle.

At first, it’s indispensable, but then it comes off, falls down, and shakes repeatedly, and eventually you learn to ride it without difficulty. There is no single person who can support your back as you pedal your bike.

Your classmates will support you.

And after watching you grow for a little while longer…

I’m leaving your class.

I’m not going to say why yet, but I’m sure Horikita will find out why sooner or later.

And then…

That there will come a time when the class you thought invincible will meet a reality you can’t beat.

I will teach you that.

For myself, and no one else. I’m fine as long as I’m winning.

If I decide to be the enemy and defeat Horikita, that’s a done deal. But I’m leaving because I want to be defeated.

There is a future that I hope is uncertain.

The answer is already there, but there is a contradiction within me that I deeply want the answer to be different.

Written on March 5, 2022