Classroom of the Elite Volume 10 Chapter 3 Part 6
TL: Graze and Liam
There weren’t very many stores that were suitable enough for meeting up after school.
Usually, people would meet at the cafe in Keyaki Mall, but today was different.
“Thanks for coming today.”
“It’s no big deal, Hirata. I wanted to talk to you as well.”
“I’m happy to hear that. Anyway, how about we walk for a bit?”
After joining up together at the southern entrance, Hirata did a quick check of the surrounding area before we started walking.
“Sorry Ayanokōji-kun. Do you mind if I change our plans a little?”
“Is it a problem if we talk in my room instead? I think I’d feel better if we did.”
“I don’t particularly mind either way.”
“Thanks for understanding.”
It seemed as though the mall wasn’t a very good place for what he wanted to talk about.
Looks like he didn’t want anyone to listen in on our conversation.
Hirata initiated some small talk as we walked toward the dormitories.
“Our first year is already almost over. How did yours go, Ayanokōji-kun?”
He let out a sigh as he looked up to the sky.
“Between being sent to the uninhabited island and being forced to participate in the training camp, it was quite the tiring year.”
“Yeah. It was definitely tough, but I still had fun. Ever since enrolling here, I feel like I’ve been able to successfully build trusting relationships with the people around me.”
“Yeah, I think so too.”
I didn’t deny it. There were still many people in the class who hated one another. However, I suppose the enemy of an enemy is a friend. Throughout the process of being forced to work together, bonds had gradually begun to take shape.
“Honestly… There were never any problems until this exam started.”
A shadow loomed over Hirata’s smiling face.
“Is that what you wanted to talk about?”
“Yep. Sorry… I’m well aware that you don’t want to talk about it.”
I wouldn’t actively involve myself, no matter what kind of special exam it was.
During previous exams, Horikita had always disregarded my feelings and asked for my cooperation.
Interestingly enough, it was the exact opposite for this exam.
Horikita didn’t turn to me for help, while Hirata did.
It appeared as though Horikita was steadily becoming more and more mature these days.
Perhaps she had come to understand that I wouldn’t cooperate, as the frequency of her requests was also petering out, little by little.
“This exam… I just can’t think of a solution. No matter how many times I think about it, nothing comes to mind.”
“No matter how many times…”
Looking closely, I could see dark circles beneath Hirata’s eyes.
It made me wonder if he had been thinking about the exam all night, unable to get enough sleep.
“It sounds difficult. In an exam like this one, the more you think about your classmates, the harder it gets.”
“Never mind, don’t worry about it.”
If I were to say something careless here, Hirata would only plunge even deeper into the darkness.
For now, it was probably best just to leave it alone.
“If… if there’s a way to save the class, please tell me.”
Because of my response, he had somehow gotten the wrong idea, thinking that I had an answer for him.
“Do you really think it’s impossible to save up 20 million private points?”
“I’ve tried running the numbers, but it’s just not possible to get that many points. Yesterday, I tried to casually bring it up with my upperclassmen in the soccer club, but they’re all waiting for the special exams they’ll be facing after this.”
“They weren’t able to spare any points, then?”
At the end of the day, the number of methods available to avoid losing someone was far too limited.
“Sorry, I can’t think of anything else. I’ll definitely tell you if I do.”
“Is that so… Well, thank you.”
It was the best answer I could give him at this point.
Trying his hardest to smile, Hirata thanked me.
This special exam was extremely easy, yet also exceedingly difficult.
If you change your point of view a little bit, the true goal of this exam becomes incredibly clear.
But Hirata couldn’t see it.
This was just an exam for us to remove an unnecessary student.
From the moment Chabashira explained the rules, both Kōenji and I had already determined the end point of the exam.
Of course, there’s no way of knowing ‘who’ would be expelled. All that mattered was making sure it wasn’t ‘you’.
However, it was different for people like Hirata.
He’d never be able to get past knowing ‘who’ would be expelled.
This was why he had gotten stuck within a maze, unable to find the exit.
“Ayanokōji-kun, do you think it’s fine for someone to be expelled?”
“It would be nice if nobody’s expelled when the exam is over. But that’s difficult in this case.”
“…Of course. You’re right. But, there must be somethi-”
“Haven’t you had a hard time sleeping because you already know the answer to that?”
I spoke up, interrupting him.
Silence came between us as we approached the entrance to the dormitories.
This was mainly because we could see several students chatting in the lobby.
The true problem, however, was a bit deeper than that.
Our eyes met with a certain person sitting on one of the lobby sofas.
“Well well well. If it isn’t Hirata boy and Ayanokōji boy. What a toootal coincidence this must be.”
“Hey Kōenji-kun. You waiting for someone?”
He seemed to notice our gazes immediately after we entered the building.
“Are you saying you’d be concerned if I had plans to meet with someone?”
Kōenji responded to Hirata’s question with a question of his own.
“I might think it’s unusual.”
“I don’t dislike your honesty, but unfortunately I am not.”
Although he had answered the question, it still didn’t explain what he was doing here.
Generally speaking, Kōenji wasn’t the kind of person to spend his time hanging around in a place like this.
Hirata walked to the elevator and reached out to press the call button.
Thereupon, Kōenji abruptly spoke up from behind us.
“Well, you’d better be doing your best to muster up the wisdom to make it through this exam.”
“…You never change, do you, Kōenji-kun?”
Hirata asked, Kōenji’s attitude seeming to weigh on his mind a little.
Hirata’s finger had stopped just short of pressing the button.
“There’s no reason for me to change for an exam like this.”
“Is that really true?”
It was rare to see Hirata getting worked up like this.
He turned around and faced Kōenji. Of course, he still didn’t glare at him.
Hirata was always calm and composed, until the very end.
“You say there’s no reason for you to change, but honestly, I’m wondering if you’re the one who needs to change more than anyone. I’m worried that… our classmates might single you out and make an example of you.”
This was both Hirata’s way of showing concern and making a threat.
They were words that strongly conveyed his desire for cooperation.
Hirata was hoping that Kōenji would have some interest, even if only a little.
“Your concerns are unfounded. Rather, shouldn’t you, the leader of the class, be the one doing something to save me?”
Until the very end, Kōenji had no intention of changing this ‘do nothing’ stance of his.
“There are things that even I can’t do. I may not be able to live up to your expectations.”
“Oh you definitely can.”
Despite Hirata’s lack of self-confidence, Kōenji piled expectations on him without the slightest bit of hesitation.
I found myself wondering if he was being sincere or not, but I was unable to tell.
Getting up from the sofa, Kōenji approached Hirata and lightly patted him on the shoulder.
“After you’re done licking your classmate’s wounds, please be sure to throw out the unnecessary trash.”
The moment these words left Kōenji’s mouth, Hirata firmly pushed the call button.
“…Let’s go Ayanokōji-kun.”
Hirata’s tone, which had been amicable up until this point, now contained slight traces of anger.
There is trash among our classmates.
Hirata probably couldn’t help but feel irritated by what Kōenji had implied.
He only spoke up after the elevator door closed behind us.
“Haa… Sorry. I let you see something a bit unseemly.”
“Don’t worry about it. Kōenji’s opinions are troublesome.”
Hirata forced a light smile and slightly lowered his head.
“So he struck a chord with you back there as well… Deep down, I know that preventing the expulsion is unrealistic. Despite everything, somewhere on the inside, I’ve already given up.”
The elevator arrived at Hirata’s floor. We disembarked and headed over to his room.
“Come on in.”
“Sorry for intruding…”
This was the first time I had been in Hirata’s room. Fundamentally speaking, the interior decor was simple, similar to my own room. There was a light, gentle scent in the air, similar to that of air freshener.
Although it was a bit plain, it was becoming of him. A very well-arranged room.
“Have a seat. Would you like some coffee?”
“Yes. Sorry to bother you.”
“Don’t worry about it. I was the one who asked.”
This was a relatively new experience for me, since I was usually the one entertaining guests.
“As a continuation of what we were talking about a bit ago…”
He spoke up once again as he prepared the coffee in the kitchen.
“I wonder if there’s really no way to save everyone.”
“I wonder. Maybe I just can’t think of anything.”
I gave the same answer I did earlier.
Despite knowing that this would be my answer, Hirata still seemed to be looking for salvation.
I had intended for my answer to console him, but this appeared to have been counterproductive.
“If you can’t think of anything, I doubt anyone else will be able to.”
“You’re giving me far too much credit.”
I had no idea when exactly he started to evaluate me so highly.
“I’ve felt that you’re one of the most dependable people in the class ever since that matter with Karuizawa-san.”
Hirata spoke as though he had seen the true nature of my heart.
“I’m not really sure that’s accurate.”
After the water finished boiling, he handed me a cup of coffee.
“I’m being honest. Though, you’re a modest person, so you’ll probably deny it.”
At this point, no matter what I said, it would’ve been a waste of effort.
Even if I denied his claims, Hirata still wouldn’t believe me.
I began to think about how it’d be better to change the subject, but Hirata quickly continued, seeming to anticipate my intention to do so.
“The fact that someone has to be expelled during this exam… I just can’t come to terms with it, no matter how hard I try. There’s no such thing as someone who wouldn’t care if a classmate was forced to leave.”
“It’s not like I don’t get where you’re coming from, but you simply don’t have any other choice. We only have until the weekend to come to a decision.”
“A decision, huh? Ayanokōji-kun… Do you think somebody in particular should be expelled?”
He looked at me with peering eyes.
While they had a gentle look to them, they also appeared to contain something else entirely.
It may have been interpreted as an unfairly neutral statement, but it was my honest thoughts on the matter. Even though there were a few students up for consideration, nobody wanted to openly nominate one for expulsion. It would be better to determine who to expel with a class discussion instead.
“We have no choice but to come to terms with it, whoever it ends up being.”
“How level-headed. Compared to someone like me, you’re far more cut out to be the class leader.”
Hirata had taken the initiative to pull the class together earlier in the year, but his words were now filled with a timid uncertainty.
There was a single, specific thing he could do to prepare himself.
“What should I do moving forward? How exactly should I face this exam?”
It may be a little out of line to give him advice, but Hirata was always frequently helping those around him.
I wanted to do something to help him…
“I don’t want you to take my word for it, but I’ll tell you what I think.”
“Let’s put idealistic thoughts about ‘saving everyone’ to the side for a moment. You’ve been racking your brain, asking yourself ‘Who should we get rid of?’ for a while now, but you still haven’t been able to come to a decision.”
My words were clearly troubling him a bit, but Hirata ultimately nodded his head in agreement.
“In which case, how about you try doing the opposite? Instead of thinking ‘Who should we get rid of?’, think ‘Who should I save?’ instead.”
“Who should I save…? Of course I want save everyo-”
“Attach a priority to each student in the class. Rank everyone, including yourself, one at a time from most to least important. Of course, there may be some students with roughly the same importance, but you should still try to do it anyway. You can make it simple and base it on who you like the most, or you could base it on how much they’ve contributed to the class so far.”
By drawing up a ranking like this, there would inevitably be a student in last place.
It was an incredibly straightforward solution.
However, Hirata wouldn’t be able to do it. His heart was still stuck on saving everyone.
He probably thought ranking his classmates like this would be an act of foolishness.
“Let’s say I make a ranking. The list I come up with wouldn’t necessarily be the same as the one our classmates come up with.”
With this excuse, he continued to run away.
At this rate, the day of the special exam would arrive and he’d be completely defenceless.
“That’s fine. I think you should start by coming to your own decision first.”
For now, this was the only advice I could give him.
Moreover, whatever judgement he would make from here was up to him to decide on his own.
I took a grateful sip of the coffee he brewed for me.
It seemed to be from a different brand than the coffee I usually bought, as it had a somewhat potent bitterness to it.
“Well, yeah. You’re probably right… Recently I’ve been consumed by the desire to run away from all of this.”
Hirata took my advice and earnestly tried his best to come to terms with it.
It probably wouldn’t go smoothly right away. The idea may leave a bad taste in his mouth and end up being rejected completely.
However, he still tried his best to accept it with an open mind.
“Haa… Alright. Thank you.”
Hirata squeezed out words of appreciation.
For the time being, our conversation seemed to reach a stopping point.
“Can I ask something a bit insensitive?”
Suddenly changing the subject, I decided to try asking about something I was curious about.
“Hm? What’s up?”
“Has anyone confessed to you since your break-up with Karuizawa?”
“Well that’s an unexpected question. I never thought you’d be asking me something like that, Ayanokōji-kun.”
There was a mix of surprise and bewilderment on Hirata’s face.
I was interested in Hirata’s potential love interests because of my past conversation with our classmate, Mii-chan. Before the end-of-year exam, she had reached out to me for advice because she was interested in Hirata, so I was curious about what had happened with that. I found myself wondering if she had already taken action.
“Well, I won’t say who, but… yes, a girl has reached out to me.”
In other words, girls were already beginning to confess to Hirata.
Whether it was Mii-chan or not, I had no intention of pressing him any further to find out.
Regardless, attractive guys like Hirata really are incredible. Girls were constantly throwing themselves at him, even if he didn’t do anything. No, rather, Hirata’s popularity stemmed from the way he carried himself. He wasn’t slacking off in any way.
“Are you going out with this girl?”
“Certainly not. I’m not going to go out with anyone right now.”
He decisively asserted his stance on the matter.
“Is there someone you like already or something?”
I could understand where he was coming from if he only had eyes for the one his heart was set on.
“Dating someone… is just too much for me right now. I’m unqualified.”
“If that’s how it is for you, then it must be nothing more than a pipe dream for someone like me.”
In the first place, when it comes to falling in love, there’s no need for qualifications.
“I’m just not fit for love.”
The more capable the person, the more humble they are.
The less capable the person, the more arrogant they are
Ultimately, our conversation ended without either of us delving too much deeper.
In my opinion, this part was redundant and not very interesting, but it’s here regardless. There is one part left in Chapter 3, which should be coming out soon, so please keep your eyes peeled and ready to finish out the 3rd chapter. Thanks for reading everyone. Please let me know if you have any feedback.