Classroom of the Elite Volume 12 Chapter 3 Part 3
After school, I was approached by Horikita, just like yesterday.
As we were about to leave the classroom together, Sudō came along, strong-arming his way into accompanying us. Although Horikita tried to turn him down like she did last time, she was apparently persuaded by his desire to lend a hand until he managed to find a partner. She agreed to it under the condition that it didn’t get in the way of his studies or participation in his club activities, and began to take action from there. For Horikita to be this gentle, or perhaps I should say accepting, certainly felt unexpected.
However, there was probably a perfectly good reason for it.
There were only about ten days left until the special exam. Given the high difficulty of the written tests, it would be ideal for Sudō to secure a time and place where he could focus on his studies, even if only a little. But, if he’s always worried about Horikita’s movements, he wouldn’t be able to concentrate. It was clear that Horikita wanted to find Sudō a partner as soon as possible so he could make the time to focus on studying.
Though Horikita had a solid understanding of the man named Sudō Ken, there was one crucial aspect she had yet to understand. Namely, Sudō’s feelings for her. She hadn’t realized that there was a reason he always wanted to be by her side.
Of course, there was no way I’d point this out to her. After all, it was one of Sudō’s most important motivators.
Instead of heading toward the first-year classrooms, Horikita led us in the direction of the Keyaki Mall.
Perhaps it was because the first-year students had caused trouble in the second-year area during lunch today.
She was being considerate so as to ensure that a similar development wouldn’t happen again.
Or maybe she had decided against it because of Hōsen, the problem child from Class 1-D?
I’d find out soon enough either way.
“Gotta say, there’s a lot goin’ on here. These first-years are really makin’ a lotta noise.”
As soon as we entered the mall, Sudō crammed his left pinky finger into his ear, seemingly irritated.
He spoke bluntly, sharing his impression of the first-year students spread out before him.
“There are certainly a lot of students hanging around, aren’t there?”
They were all over the place, happily chatting amongst each other about what they’d like to buy or eat.
“And yet I’m out here seriously lookin’ for a partner.”
Dedicating several days to finding a partner wasn’t just a good idea for second-year students, but for first-years as well. However, there was a huge discrepancy between the students of the two grade levels.
That is, the difference in our understanding of special exams.
Very few of the first-year students felt a sense of urgency, just like the students we saw yesterday after school.
This became even more pronounced after we had left the campus.
“It’s understandable isn’t it? It’s no different from how it was back when we were first-years.”
“I suppose that’s true…”
The students had received a large sum of private points just after coming to the school, and they naturally spent their days living in idle amusement as a result.
Even if they were from Class A, it didn’t make very much of a difference.
No matter the method, the degree to which they would indulge themselves was the same.
The most troublesome part of all of this was the difference in punishments for the first and second-year students.
Compared to expulsion, the first-years would only have to suffer through three months without private points.
“Just look at ‘em, messin’ around without a care in the world.”
“You’re one to talk, Sudō-kun. Have you already forgotten what you were like as a first-year?”
“I-I didn’t forget… I’ve reflected on it a lot, okay?”
After all, he had been the first student to be under threat of expulsion.
However, the relief measures we had used to save him back then weren’t available to us anymore.
The privileges that came with being new had long since been used up.
“For the time being, how about we try and reach out to some of them?”
Horikita said, spotting a group of three male first-year students seated together on one of the mall benches, cracking jokes with each other.
Their names were Kaga, Mikami, and Shiratori. The three of them were students of Class 1-D with Academic Ability ratings of B- or higher. Before reaching out to them, Horikita first made sure to look them up on the app, just in case.
It seemed like she was still looking to go after students from Class 1-D after all.
“Could I trouble you guys for a second?”
“…What is it?”
They could probably tell that they were being approached by upperclassmen just by looking at us.
Their cheerful-looking expressions had faded away, replaced instead with vigilance and caution.
“We’re searching for partners for the upcoming special exam. You guys don’t have partners yet, right?”
“Eh, ah, yes. We haven’t paired up with anyone yet.”
“If you don’t mind, could we discuss it on the premise of pairing up with us?”
“We don’t mind at all. Right guys?”
After hearing our proposal, the three of them nodded as if they had discussed this in advance. It was an unexpectedly good response, and it felt like they had lowered their guards a bit.
Sudō was also shocked by their favorable attitude, letting show a slightly surprised expression.
“However, I’m very sorry to say this, but our top priority right now is to find─”
“Partners who can prevent those of you with low Academic Ability ratings from being expelled, right?”
It seemed that this notion had already spread amongst the first-years.
“Yes. If you guys are already aware of that, then our discussion will be much easier.”
“Let’s see… so you’d like for one of us to partner up with… Sudō-senpai?”
They spoke confidently since they had checked our OAA profiles on their cell phones as well.
“That’s right. He’s one of them. There are several others as well, though.”
“Ah, I see. So his Academic Ability rating is an E+…? This could be tricky.”
The words he chose were tactful, but it was clear that he was emphasizing Sudō’s low academic performance.
While everything the first-year had said was true, Sudō still seemed a little ticked off, but somehow he just barely managed to prevent it from showing on his face.
“If it’s you, Shiratori, it should be fine, right?”
Kaga and Mikami turned the focus over to Shiratori, who was seated on the right end of the bench.
“As it stands now, my Academic Ability rating is an A.”
“So it seems. If you’re willing to partner up with him, then I have nothing more to say.”
“Alright then… how about this?”
Shiratori gestured toward Horikita, showing her his hand with all five fingers raised as he made his proposition.
For a moment, Horikita didn’t quite understand what he meant, so she shot a look back over at Sudō and I. This prompted Shiratori to speak up again.
“Oh gosh. You want us to partner up, right? If so, a certain something is absolutely necessary, don’t you think?”
Hearing those words, Horikita finally understood.
“…I suppose you’re referring to private points?”
“Of course. If I partnered up with somebody smart, I could aim for the top spot. Since I’d be giving up the potential rewards that come with coming out on top by partnering up with somebody who has a low Academic Ability rating, it’s only natural that there be compensation, wouldn’t you say?”
“What!? You wanna take points from us? And 50,000 points at that…? That’s way too many!”
For Sudō, who had been leading a life where he was constantly low on funds, this was an outrageous amount of points.
“Senpai, please stop joking around. How could I possibly accept 50,000?”
“500,000. If you give me 500,000 points, I’ll happily partner up with you right here, right now.”
“F-five hundred thousand!?”
“There will be consequences if somebody gets expelled from your class, right? We’ve done our fair share of looking into this as well.”
It was apparent that there was a vast difference between the first-years now and how we were last year.
They had started to understand the structure of the school’s system, and furthermore, knew the value that they themselves brought to the table.
Between those of us here, it was hard to tell who was an upperclassman and who was an underclassman.
That’s just how the situation could be interpreted.
“You’re not wrong that pairing with somebody who has a lower Academic Ability rating would call for some degree of compensation.”
“O-oi, Suzune, I ain’t even got close to 500,000 points though?”
“I know that, so be quiet for a second.”
The three first-years had strained smiles on their face once they overheard Sudō carelessly leak his poor financial situation.
“It’s natural to desire points, but is chasing after short-sighted greed really worth it?”
“What are you saying?”
Shiratori, as the representative of the three of them, asked Horikita to elaborate.
“What I mean is that, if you were to do us a favor here, we might be able help you out in a similar situation later on down the line.”
Horikita was trying to persuade them that, if they made a loan that didn’t involve private points, they’d be placed at an advantage in the future.
“Aside from Horikita-senpai, who has an A in Academic Ability, I can’t imagine that Sudō-senpai or Ayanokōji-senpai would be very helpful to us, though?”
“That’s not necessarily true. There’s more to this school than just academics. There are also times where athletic ability is required.”
This was particularly applicable to Sudō, as he was the only second-year student who had an A+ rating in Physical Ability.
Horikita was looking to use this as a weapon, but…
“I know that, but at the end of the day you guys are still Class D, right? If I was looking to curry favors, I’d rather reach out to Class A or B.”
Shiratori responded, having come to a calm, objective judgment.
At this point, Horikita probably understood it as well.
“…I see. So that’s how it is, huh?”
Having taken into account the number of private points involved and how smoothly they had handled our offer, it wasn’t necessary to think about it very deeply.
“W-what does that mean?”
“Before you arrived, we were consulted by another class of second-year students.”
“And they told you not to sell your academic ability for cheap, right?”
“Yes. Please know that we won’t be partnering with you if you can’t put up a suitable number of points.”
Despite facing such clear rejection from Shiratori and his friends, Horikita still didn’t back down.
“If that’s the case, then it’s certainly true that you can’t sell yourselves cheaply. However, I find myself wondering if they really approached you at all?”
“What do you mean?”
At that, Shiratori’s expression seemed somewhat discontent, as if his pride that came with his A-rated Academic Ability had been wounded.
“You guys are in Class D, just the same as us. I don’t believe the higher-ranked classes would’ve approached you so easily.”
This was Horikita’s bluff. If one had a high Academic Ability rating, they would be useful in this exam, even if they were a student in Class D.
She had said this for the sake of confirming who it was that had reached out to them, and the details of what had been said.
Shiratori objected to her assertion in a slightly rough tone, having seemingly been instigated due to his wounded pride.
“It’s true. We were invited by Hashimoto-senpai from Class 2-A. And, we’ve also been approached by Class 2-C, offering us a fair sum of points to partner up with them. Right guys?”
The two others nodded along in agreement.
“And it’s not just us either. Practically all of the smart ones out there have been approached by now.”
The ones who were seeking to buy them out were Class 2-A and Class 2-C, just as Horikita had predicted.
“I see… In which case, there’s no way for us to respond to your expectations right now.”
“Ah, but we won’t turn you down if you have the points for it. We’ll be observing the situation for the next week or so. If you can offer 500,000 points in that time, we’d be glad to partner up, even with someone like Sudō-senpai.”
500,000 private points. The amount it would take to ensure that you wouldn’t have to face expulsion.
It was a large sum alright, but from another angle, it was the price that came with buying your own safety.
However, a definite decision couldn’t be made right now, nor should it be.
“By the way… How many points did Hashimoto-kun and the others offer you?”
She wanted to know exactly how many points were on the table here, but Shiratori and the others weren’t that naive.
“We promised not to share that information. The only thing I’ll say is that, if you have 500,000 points, we’ll willingly help you out.”
“I understand. I’ll take it into consideration. In any case, could I ask you three for a favor? Could you perhaps introduce us to some of your other classmates?”
“We’ve already planned on cooperating with your class, at least to some extent. But it’ll take a lot of time and effort to approach each of you one by one and explain the same things from scratch. If possible, I was hoping you guys could gather some people together and we could have a concrete discussion from there.”
She briefly brushed upon the idea of working together, but didn’t articulate what exactly that was about.
The three of them exchanged glances with one another, but their facial expressions seemed slightly embarrassed.
“That’s… entrusting us with something like that… it’ll be kinda difficult, right guys?”
“Yeah. If we went ahead and did that on our own, Hōsen-kun would probably get angry with us.”
The name ‘Hōsen’ had come up as the three of them discussed the topic.
From their words and behavior, I got a sense of the fear they had for him.
“I’m sorry Senpai, but could you please ask this of someone else…?”
Sure enough, that guy was the one who held the key to Class 1-D.
Having noticed the obvious change in atmosphere, Horikita decided not to pursue the matter any further.
“Thank you. I’ll reach out to you if I need anything else.”
“O-okay. We’ll be waiting.”
We walked away from the bench and began heading toward the cafe on the second floor of the mall. I discreetly looked behind us as we went, only to see Shiratori hurriedly making a call on his cell phone.
“Although we’ve gotten some information, it’s hard to say we’ve made any real progress. The only thing I’m sure of is that they’ll cooperate as long as we provide them with the absurd sum of 500,000 points.”
“They’re really takin’ advantage of us with these ridiculous requirements and all.”
“It’s a ridiculous sum of points, that’s for sure. But at the end of the day, there’s also no reason for them to sell themselves short.”
Not selling yourself short was even more important for those who had gotten an A rating in Academic Ability.
Compared to aiming for the 100,000 points you’d get from taking a top spot in the exam, this was a far better method.
“So like, the only way I’m gonna save myself is by payin’ somebody with private points?”
“It’s hard to say there’ll be anybody willing to help you for free.”
The notion that points were required to establish relationships had already spread throughout the student mindset. It was best to assume that not only Shiratori and his friends, but the first-year student body as a whole knew about the system of exchanging private points. This was all probably part of Sakayanagi and Ryūen’s strategy. Normally, exchanging points for favors was looked down upon and doing so should, in theory, be done in secret. However, now that large-scale buy-out tactics had taken center stage, they had forced the first-years to acknowledge that providing services without compensation would be equivalent to taking a loss.
Nevertheless, something in our earlier conversation with Shiratori and his friends had caught my attention.
Even though it seems that they had already been approached by the other classes, Shiratori had still said that he’d be willing to wait a week. Even if they had set aside the time to fish for points, it bothered me that the three of them were in agreement on that course of action from the very beginning. There should also be students who’d want the reassurance of locking down a partner as soon as possible.
Was it that those three just happened to be confident, or…?
“If we keep randomly asking around like this, we’ll probably keep getting the same answers, won’t we?”
The fact that we had our eyes on Class 1-D was fine, the problem was what came after that.
I was also caught up on what they had said about Hōsen getting angry if they went and did something on their own.
And from the way they were speaking, it was clear that Hōsen Kazuomi was the one in control of Class 1-D.
“Hōsen probably gave instructions to his classmates. Telling them something like: ‘I don’t care who the fuck you pair up with, but only do so right away if they fork over 500k. Otherwise just put a hold on it and wait, even if they’re from Class A.’”
“But, with somethin’ like that, wouldn’t Class 1-D end up gettin’ left in the dust?”
“It means that he’s already made preparations for that exact situation.”
“Wha? I don’t get it.”
“The second-years are the ones who are afraid of the penalty that comes with not finding a partner by the deadline. He’s looking to use that penalty as a weapon, wringing as many private points out of us as possible.”
If all of the honors students outside of Class 1-D had already been bought out, we’d have no choice but to spend big in order to get Class 1-D’s help. Even with prices of one or two million.
“It’s a reckless strategy, one with complete disregard for anything that’ll happen later on down the line.”
“So can you formally explain your plan for how you’re going to handle it?”
We had already seen through Class 1-D’s principles and strategy. Having taken that into account, I wanted to know what Horikita was thinking, thus my question.
Would she look to drive a wedge in the aggressive buy-out contest Class 2-A and Class 2-C had engaged in? Or perhaps she would go the same route as Ichinose and try to establish a trusting relationship by accepting the more academically inferior students, winning over the help of the honors students along the way?
“I had decided on three goals for us back when I first heard about this special exam.”
Sudō seemed to bear an interest in this topic, as he leaned in closer out of curiosity.
“The most important one is to not let anyone get expelled, this one goes without saying.”
At that, Sudō nodded.
“The next is that we try to get third place or higher in the overall class ranking.”
“Third place? Does that mean you gave up on first and second from the get go?”
“Nobody said anything about giving up. I just said third place or higher.”
While it was true that the exact phrasing of her words had included both first and second place, somehow it didn’t feel as though that was the case.
This likely had something to do with her third goal.
“The third is to avoid participating in any monetary exchanges. I intend to take action with these three principles in mind.”
“I understand what you want to say. We won’t win at all if we don’t compete with private points. But, even if we fight using every point that our class has, the risks simply don’t outweigh the returns. Let’s say we managed to get first place overall. In that case we’d only get 50 class points. Spread that out over the course of a year and the class would only end up with just over 2 million points.”
With 5000 points per month multiplied by a total of 39 people, subtracting the points that had already been distributed in April, we’d receive a total of 2,145,000 points over the course of the remaining eleven months.
“Assuming that we’d be spending 500,000 per person, we’d be in the red after five people. You’re not so optimistic that you’d think we can win overall with only four first-years with A-rated Academic Ability, are you?”
Even if we were to carry that forward for the next two years, that is, until graduation, that would only be 4,485,000 private points. We’d only be able to draw in a maximum of eleven people. Moreover, this was based on the prerequisite that we not only recruit them for 500,000 points at the very most, but take first place in the overall class ranking as well. Given the risks, it would most likely be more efficient to wait for a future special exam and make use of our private points then.
“Private points aren’t equal to class points. I’m well aware that there’s more to it than just what we get in return. However, I think that even if we pooled all of our points together, our chances of winning would be slim to none, so we shouldn’t try and force it. Am I wrong, Ayanokōji-kun?”
“No. Your deduction is correct.”
Originally, the difference in academic skill between Class 2-D and Class 2-A was painfully obvious. I didn’t think we’d have the advantage needed to win overall, even if we managed to recruit eleven people. Of course, Horikita would probably adapt to the needs of the situation. I could imagine that she’d be willing to provide private points if there was somebody who’d lend a hand for 50,000-100,000. She just didn’t want the class to get caught up in a monetary battle.
“In order to meet these three goals, I still think we should look to negotiate with Class 1-D.”
“B-but why? With Hōsen calling the shots, they wouldn’t be willin’ to partner with us if we don’t fork over at least half a million, right?”
“That’s only the case for honor students. However, there are several students in Class 1-D with ratings in the C range, and even more who are lower than that. What do you think would happen if they were just left like that?”
“What would happen…?”
“Students who should’ve been able to receive help would instead receive a penalty, and the situation would become unstable.”
I responded in Sudō’s stead, to which Horikita nodded and continued.
“There’s no reason for them to intentionally give up the private points they receive every month. In other words, at some point, Hōsen-kun will have no choice but to change his stance.”
Even if all of the honor students managed to sell their skills for 500,000 each, none of the other students would be able to use that method. Whether or not the second-years would have anybody expelled aside, for the first-year’s battle, Hōsen would end up falling behind.
“If he has his eyes on victory, there should definitely be an opportunity to take advantage of.”
It seemed that Horikita intended to oppose Class 1-D, the class everybody wanted to avoid.
“Although, having all 39 of us try and take on Hōsen-kun’s class would be dangerous. We have to do our best to reduce the risk as much as possible.”
If our negotiations were to fail, the students with low academic performance would be the ones in trouble.
“With the exam having just begun, it isn’t strange that some people have unreasonable conditions you’d have to meet in order to partner up with them.”
“Well I hope so… For someone like me, I ain’t so sure a partner even exists in the first place.”
“In any case, to find a good partner, we have no choice but to start reaching out to a whole bunch of people.”
“Heyo~ If you’re looking for a good partner, there’s one right over here.”
As we were walking up the stairs, headed to the cafe on the second floor, we heard a voice call out from behind us. We turned around to see a schoolgirl, watching us from the first floor with a wide smile on her face. As soon as our eyes met, she casually began to make her way up the stairs.
Horikita was the first person to let suspicion show on her face.
“Were you eavesdropping on us?”
“Don’t be like that, Senpai. I just called out cuz I happened to overhear you is all! Uhm…”
She spoke without looking at Sudō and me at all, her eyes fixed on Horikita the entire time.
“Senpai, what’s your name and Academic Ability rating?”
“…I’m Horikita from Class 2-D. My Academic Ability rating is an A-. Why are you asking?”
“For real? You’re pretty smart.”
“And your name is?”
“I’m Amasawa Ichika from Class 1-A. I’ve gotta A in Academic Ability, kinda same as you, Horikita-senpai.”
She was an intelligent student, contrary to what her gal-like appearance would lead you to believe.
Horikita double checked the app just to be sure.
“If you’re gonna go for the top spot, how ‘bout partnering up with me?”
Amasawa asked without even bothering to ask about Horikita’s background.
If two people with an A rating and an A- rating were to team up together, taking first wouldn’t be outside the realm of possibility. Given that Horikita had intentionally lowered her own scores for Sudō’s sake in the past, it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to say that her real rating was closer to an A.
Though this was an unexpected development, Horikita might end up deciding on her own partner before Sudō and the others.
After all, an A-rated student had reached out to her, even though it had happened by chance.
If Horikita were to ask her to pair up with a student who had a worse rating now, she may end up scaring Amasawa off.
“I appreciate your offer, but I’m not looking for my own partner right now. Instead of me, could I perhaps ask if you’d be willing to partner with him…?”
Horikita went for it anyway, bearing the risk of introducing Sudō.
Although Sudō was a little perplexed, he lightly bowed his head in greeting.
“Lemme see, and what is this Sudō-senpai’s Academic Ability?”
“E+. Not good by any stretch of the imagination.”
Not good was an understatement. He was in the running for the lowest rating of the entire school year.
Amasawa had probably already figured this out for herself thanks to the app as well.
“I see~ So basically you’re trying to find him a partner in order to prevent him from getting kicked outta here.”
Having grasped the situation, Amasawa looked over at Sudō.
“E+? Forget taking the top spot, if we’re together, we’d prolly end up placing a lil below average.”
“That’s right. There’s basically nothing in it for you.”
At this point, I thought Amasawa would bring up the topic of private points, but that didn’t happen.
“Welp, since you’re asking, I guess I wouldn’t mind helping out.”
Compared to the three guys from earlier, this was an undoubtedly better response.
She then shifted her sights in my direction.
“What about this Senpai? Does he need a partner too?”
“His rating is a C, so he’s not as much of a priority. Though, if Sudō-kun isn’t good enough for you, I’d be grateful if you could at least partner up with him.”
Even though Horikita was being generous, I had no choice but to put a stop to the idea.
After all, I couldn’t afford to decide on a partner without thinking it through first.
“Are you dissatisfied with something about her?”
“Not exactly, it’s just─”
“Hey hey wait a sec. I haven’t said that I’ll like, actually pair up with either of them yet, okay?”
Having noticed that the conversation was moving forward without her, Amasawa put a stop to it.
“Do you have any conditions that need to be met for you to partner up with one of them?”
“Conditions, conditions… Yeah, I guess I’ve got the right to make some of those as well, huh?”
Horikita had broached the topic here in order to try and pressure Amasawa into naming her requirements.
Her fundamental goal of not engaging in a financial battle with the other classes probably hadn’t changed, but, if Amasawa’s price was cheap enough, there would be room for consideration. After that, all we could do is pray that she wouldn’t ask for an absurd amount of points like Shiratori and his friends had earlier. However…
“I’d say I like strong, powerful people, ya feel?”
Amasawa smiled devilishly as she brought up something that seemed to have nothing to do with the special exam.
“What on earth are you talking about?”
Horikita furrowed her eyebrows out of suspicion, having expected the conversation to go from academics to private points.
“For me it’s like, I’ve been super worried about what to do for this exam, you know? Should I go for the top spot and study as hard as I can and by pairing up with somebody smart like Horikita-senpai…? That, or should I just try to get through it without having to worry all that much? And, if I were to choose not to worry about it too much, I might as well pair up with someone I’m interested in, right?”
It was certainly a better decision than working together with somebody you hated or somebody who didn’t care at all.
“And I’m particularly interested in strong, powerful guys.”
At this point, she repeated what she had said moments earlier a second time.
Horikita’s head was spinning, trying its best to understand what Amasawa was saying.
“So in other words… you want to know if Sudō-kun is strong or not?”
“Correct. And I’m not talking about being mentally strong, it’s about being physically strong. Well, from his physique, he looks like he does a lot of sports and stuff, so that gives me a solid idea of where he’s at.”
Amasawa turned and pointed at Sudō, a student who should be irrelevant to those who have an A rating in Academic Ability.
Although he was somewhat shy, Sudō was confident in his body, so he nodded and began to pose a bit for her.
“You wanna partner with me?”
Saying that, Amasawa reached out to caress Sudō’s cheek.
“W-well, you’d be better off if I had an A in Academic Ability and all though… Would you really be okay with me?”
“If you’re really as strong as you say.”
With that, she traced her slender finger across Sudō’s chest, mesmerizing him with her bewitching appearance.
“You’re a confident guy, huh? I don’t hate that.”
“What exactly do you mean by ‘strong and powerful’?”
As the one in charge of supervising Sudō, Horikita expressed her uncertainty as to what Amasawa was referring to.
“It means what it means. I like strong guys who are good at fighting. That’s why I want to partner up with somebody who’s, like, nice and powerful.”
“If that’s the case, then I think Sudō-kun will live up to your expectations. I can attest to his physical strength.”
“I won’t be convinced with just words alone~ I’ll have to make sure of it with my own eyes.”
“…With your own eyes?”
“I’m saying like, go gather up all of the strong guys in the second year and have ‘em, like, fight each other or something. Then I’ll come along and partner up with the one who wins.”
“Are you joking? There’s no way we could do something like that.”
“Why not? I’ve been like, completely serious this whole time, alright?”
“Let’s go, Suzune. We’re wasting our time here.”
By now, Sudō didn’t think Amasawa was being serious either, so he cut in as well.
It was like he was admonishing himself for falling for Amasawa’s seductive charms, even if only for a moment.
“I don’t particularly mind if you just forget about this entire conversation.”
She was saying that, to her, this was nothing more than a bonus game.
There certainly wasn’t any dire need for her to go out of her way and partner up with an E+ student.
Given the perfection of her rating and class, she would probably always have someone willing to pay.
To some extent, you could even call us lucky. If we agreed, Sudō would gain the right to partner up with an A-rated student. Even if it didn’t end up happening, it’s not like there would be any penalty either.
“You’re really not just messing around with us? You’re being completely serious?”
As she asked this, the look in Horikita’s eyes was the true essence of seriousness itself.
“Of course I am.”
“I see. In that case, we’ll have to hear you out seriously as well then.”
“Good~ Good~ I want to pair up with somebody strong.”
“Alright then, Sudō-kun, you should accept her offer.”
“W-wait, Suzune. There’s no way we’ll just like, be allowed to start a fight at school. Things get outta hand real quick. Remember that stuff that happened last year? Or even earlier today at lunch when that Hōsen guy came to stir shit up a little bit?”
Last year, Sudō got into a fight with the guys in Ryūen’s class, which ended up turning into a huge ordeal.
And earlier today, a commotion broke out when Hōsen visited our classroom.
“It’s true that fighting isn’t something to be admired. However, if both sides are willing, then there shouldn’t be a problem. Wouldn’t you agree, Ayanokōji-kun?”
I took a moment to consider Horikita’s intentions behind asking me this.
If you were to ask if there was a problem, then the answer would naturally be yes.
Win or lose, even if both parties decide not to oppose the fight and go at it, there’s no way that the school would tolerate something that essentially boiled down to a duel between students.
However, Horikita’s response made it sound as though she was condoning the fight.
“You’re right. There’s no way the school’s staff would approve of the fight if they caught wind of it. But if it’s mutually agreed upon by the students, then it shouldn’t really be a big deal.”
I answered as though I didn’t have a problem with it.
“Additionally, out of everyone in the second year, nobody can hope to match Sudō-kun in a fight.”
While Sudō didn’t quite understand, Horikita and I were taking turns passing the conversation back and forth.
The important thing here wasn’t that we had agreed to fight.
It was to emphasize that we were confident that Sudō was the absolute strongest without even fighting at all.
“To be honest, Sudō-kun, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity for you. Normally, it would be extremely difficult for you to pair up with an A-ranked student. However, Amasawa-san is saying that she’d be okay with being your partner. Furthermore, she’s doing it based on strength in a fighting contest, something you’re better at than anyone else. You shouldn’t hesitate to agree to it.”
It was highly unlikely that any of the second-years would agree to participate in a careless fight like this since they were familiar with the rules of the school.
Moreover, since their opponent would be Sudō, the outcome would be as clear as day.
In other words, even if we accepted this offer now, there was a good chance that a fight would never actually happen at all. And, in the off chance that someone stepped up to the challenge, Sudō could simply turn the tables on them.
“Sweet! This is great! I’m like, getting really excited.”
Amasawa, having just enrolled here, naturally didn’t understand any of this.
There was no way she could understand that this was different from an ordinary middle or high school.
“However, could you promise us one thing first? If nobody shows up to the fight other than Sudō-kun, you’ll have to partner up with him.”
With this, Horikita was looking to put forward an important stipulation.
After all, if Amasawa didn’t agree now, the discussion wouldn’t be able to move forward any further.
“Sure, I’ll promise you that. If nobody shows up to challenge him, I’ll treat it as his win by default.”
With Amasawa’s verbal promise in place, Horikita was satisfied.
“Are you fine with all of this, Sudō-kun?”
“Ah, yeah. If you’re okay with it, Suzune, then I’m okay with it too.”
Sudō clenched his fists and bumped them together in front of him.
For Horikita, Amasawa’s proposal must have been a product of chance, and a priceless one at that.
“Welp, I’ll advertise it through the general chat of the app. I’ll ask anyone who thinks they’re confident in their strength to contact me by the end of the day today to participate.”
“Heh. Anybody that shows is gonna get their ass kicked.”
Conveniently, Sudō didn’t seem to understand Horikita’s intentions here.
He was getting excited about the prospect of genuinely throwing down with someone.
“Would it be alright if we decide on the location? I’d like to avoid letting the school catch onto us.”
“Mhm. You Senpais prolly know better than I do, so I’ll leave that to you~”
It seemed that Amasawa had finished typing out her message, so she turned to us for one last confirmation before sending it out.
“Alrighty, with this, the battle should be all set. That fine with you?”
As Horikita nodded in response, Amasawa slowly looked between the three of us.
And then, she turned off the screen of her phone and put it back into her pocket.
At first I thought that she had suddenly changed her mind, but that didn’t seem to be the case.
Judging from her facial expression, I could see that she was also trying to sound us out, testing us.
However, both Horikita and Sudō were baffled by Amasawa’s sudden change of pace.
“Even if I posted the advertisement, I doubt anyone would show up. Looking at Sudō-senpai’s physique and Horikita-senpai and Ayanokōji-senpai’s attitude, I can already understand that Sudou-senpai’s strength is like, top-class amongst all of the second-years.”
She had managed to reach the conclusion that there was no real need to compare second-years through a fight at all.
It seemed that the charade Horikita and I had put on, combined with Sudō’s natural reaction, had been even more effective than we had intended.
If she had noticed we were acting after the advertisement was posted, Horikita probably wouldn’t have let her take it back.
In order to prevent Amasawa from realizing that we had been putting on a show this whole time, Horikita expressed her discontent.
“Are you just toying with us?”
“No way, nothing like that. It’s so obvious that nobody’ll show that it ain’t much fun, you feel? I just wanna enjoy confirming that he’s the strongest with my own eyes is all. So please don’t be mad at me, Senpai.”
Amasawa pressed her forefinger to her lips as she thought it over for a moment.
“I’ll still give ya a chance though, so forgive me.”
Although Horikita wanted to maintain control, she had gotten caught up in Amasawa’s unique way of doing things.
She didn’t seem to be very good at dealing with this type of person.
“Other than strong guys, I guess I like a guy who can cook, how’s that?”
Amasawa’s new suggestion was, once again, completely unrelated to the special exam.
“Sudō-senpai, was it? You think you can make me a home-cooked meal? A suuuper tasty one?”
“A-a home-cooked meal!?”
Sudō, who had been brimming with confidence just moments earlier, was practically floored by her unexpected request.
“Of course, not only does it gotta be scrumptious, but you’ve also gotta make what I ask you to.”
“W-well, I’ve never cooked a meal in my life and─”
“That so? Well I guess I gotta take back my offer, huh?”
Horikita cuts in, not wanting to let that happen.
“Would it perhaps be okay for me to substitute in for Sudō-kun?”
“That’s no good. I told you didn’t I? That I like a guy who can cook? If I’m not partnering with a good cooking man, then what’s the point in partnering at all?”
In other words, it didn’t matter how well one could cook. If they were a girl, she wouldn’t consider them.
“If Sudō-senpai can’t do it, then why not, like, give up and go find one of your classmates who can? Ah! Is it cuz, even if you managed to find someone fast enough, I still wouldn’t pair up with Sudō-senpai?”
Amasawa grinned devilishly.
“How ‘bout you try and make Sudō-senpai into a cooking pro now? I wonder if you’ll have time for that though. I’m a popular girl, so like, if you’re too slow I might settle on a partner already.”
This wasn’t just a mere warning. She was saying that, sometime soon, she would decide on her partner.
There were plenty of excellent second-year students other than Horikita.
There was no need for her to take the risk of partnering up with somebody like Sudō just for the sake of it.
Put into words, this was just a whim, a mere playful impulse shown by the girl named Amasawa.
If she were to change her mind, even slightly, that would be the end of it.
However, a classmate with poor academic skill was one thing, but if they had to be male and also skilled at cooking… Nobody came to mind at this point.
In which case, this request from Amasawa might just be a dead end as far as Class 2-D was concerned.
Giving up and reaching out to other students would probably be a much better use of our time.
Seeing that we were unable to give her an answer, Amasawa spoke up again.
“I get it I get it. Well then, I’ll do you guys a special service. Normally I’d wanna pair up with a guy who’s real good at cooking, but… if you can satisfy my tongue, I guess I can, like, pair up with Sudō-senpai for you since he’s such a strong fighter and all.”
With this, Amasawa offered a small concession to her proposal.
Amasawa wanted to pair up with a guy who was either a strong fighter or a skilled cook.
That being the case, her tastes would certainly be satisfied with a compromise like this.
“By doing it like this, it’d be kinda similar to partnering up with a good cook and a strong fighter at the same time.”
Essentially, she’d be willing to partner with Sudō as long as her tastes were satisfied, regardless of whether it was another guy doing the cooking or not.
I found myself wondering just how Horikita was going to respond to Amasawa’s desire…
But, the problem was that no such student would come to mind.
Furthermore, there wasn’t nearly enough time to have somebody train for it now.
“Ayanokōji-kun. If I’m not mistaken, you bragged to me before that you were good at cooking, right?”
What was Horikita thinking, asking me something like this so openly?
I had never once told her that, much less bragged to her about it.
It would’ve been easy to deny it, but it seemed as though we needed to be on the same page here.
There wouldn’t be very many opportunities for Sudō to pair up with someone who had an A in Academic Ability.
“It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that cooking is my only strong point.”
“That’s true, isn’t it? If Amasawa-san is willing to permit it, how about Ayanokōji-kun?”
“As long as it’s a guy, it doesn’t matter to me. But are you really a good cook? You can say whatever you want, but like, I’mma judge you pretty hard, okay?”
“Of course he’ll be fine. Isn’t that right?”
Just as soon as I affirmed it, Amasawa clapped her hands.
“Alrighty then! How about you show me what you’re really made of? Let’s go now!”
The situation was developing far too rapidly. However, this was essentially Amasawa making an ultimatum.
She didn’t want to give me an opportunity to go and learn cooking by extending this out for longer than it needed to be.
She wanted to find out whether or not I was really a skilled cook.
As things were now, since Horikita had lied to keep Amasawa interested, there was no way she could agree to Amasawa’s request.
If I were to cook with my current skills, they still didn’t amount to very much.
And even if she wasn’t very strict with her judgment, I was certain that I still wouldn’t make the cut.
“While I’d love to do that, could you please give us a little time? Ayanokōji-kun and I have been reaching out to first-year students in order to find partners for our classmates. Besides Sudō-kun, there are plenty of other students we have to help. We’ll be put in an awfully tough spot if the other classes end up beating us to the punch. Even at this very moment, our rivals are out there searching for partners as well.”
Horikita proceeded to explain our situation, prompting to see if Amasawa understood where we were coming from.
“If possible, I’d like to hold off until after school on Friday.”
With that, Horikita firmly rejected Amasawa’s desire to have her home-cooked meal presented to her today.
What’s more is that she tried to postpone the ordeal for several days, that is, until Friday after school.
She also mentioned that we’d be able to make time for it on the weekend as well.
“I see. I certainly don’t wanna take up all your time just talking to me.”
At that, Amasawa put forward a different offer.
“I’m fine with doing it later tonight though. Would that work for you two?”
“A first-year student visiting the second-year dorm in the dead of night would lead to problems. Moral problems if the meeting place is in a boy’s room.”
“I see~ But waiting until the weekend is kinda iffy, ya know? I’d lose out on my chance to partner up with another senpai… Right?”
As expected, Horikita’s suggestion to wait until the weekend didn’t make it very far.
This time, Amasawa rigidly presented us with her terms.
“But since this has been a fated encounter, I’ll give you guys just one day. If you can’t serve me a home-cooked meal after school tomorrow, then let’s just pretend this conversation never happened. That sound good?”
This was probably the very last compromise Amasawa was willing to make.
I got the impression that, if we were any greedier, Amasawa would back out immediately.
If Horikita were to misread her and attempt to haggle any further…
“Okay. There’s certainly no denying that this will place quite a burden on you. Plus, you don’t want to give us the opportunity to practice, isn’t that right?”
“Oh no, I haven’t been thinking about that.”
“…Alright. Can I ask that you hold true to these new conditions?”
We only had one day to prepare. However, if we didn’t do it like this, we wouldn’t be able to hold onto Amasawa.
It may have looked like an act of desperation from Horikita, but she still settled on those conditions anyway.
“It’s decided then.”
Amasawa readily agreed, completely satisfied with meeting up tomorrow after school, as she herself had proposed.
“However, this is provided that you don’t change your mind on us like you did earlier. We’re not playing around here either.”
“Okay~ I promise. If I judge that his cooking skills are the real deal, then I’ll partner up with Sudō-senpai.”
Although it was just a verbal promise, Amasawa nodded along as she responded.
“I’m beggin’ you Ayanokōji! Please, use your cooking skills to somehow secure me a partner!”
I agreed given the circumstances but I hadn’t expected the situation to turn out this way.
“Well then, how about we meet up in front of Keyaki Mall at 4:30 after school tomorrow, Ayanokōji-senpai?”
“Keyaki Mall? Not the dorms?”
“The dish I’m gonna have you make for me is a secret. And you’re naturally gonna have to purchase the ingredients and stuff too, right?”
I see. She was essentially saying that everything from what I purchase to how I cook it was going to be a part of her judgment.
“Could I come along as well?”
Horikita asked, probably looking to offer me advice so that our lie didn’t get exposed.
However, her opponent wasn’t going to let that happen very easily.
“No way~ You might help him out through hidden eye signals or something. I’ll make sure my judgement is strict~”
In other words, tomorrow, I would have to make do on my own.
“You’ll be fine, right Ayanokōji-senpai?”
“Yeah. No problem.”
For the time being, I would honestly do what I could, but this had become quite a big deal.
“Well then, I’ll see you tomorrow. Bye bye~”
Satisfied, Amasawa left, headed back down the staircase.
“Horikita, I think you’re already aware of this, but─”
“Be quiet for now. I’ll come up with a plan.”
While she said she would come up with a plan, she only had one day to come up with one.
With my minimal cooking skills, how much could I actually do?
This part SUCKED to translate. It’s long as fuuuuuck and took me hours upon hours to get through. Every time I felt like I had made great progress, I would look back at the rest of the part and be like “Oh only 20 pages left to go”, and then kill myself.
It wouldn’t be that bad if the content of the part didn’t suck as well. It’s really repetitive stuff and overall the content just wasn’t very interesting to me in the slightest. I really hope something more engaging happens sometime soon because I was not impressed with this part at all.
Well, I guess it wasn’t that bad. I’m just traumatized. Disgustingly long parts like this make me feel terrible and just generally suck to translate. They absolutely tank my motivation to translate too, so I get them done really slowly. I’m really not willing to split the parts of a chapter into parts and then release those parts of the parts. That would honestly kinda suck and it’s way more effort than I’m willing to invest.
Anyways. Chapter 4 has no stupidly long parts like this. You can expect the intro tomorrow. We’re back to normal, consistent updates with normal-sized, consistent parts for the foreseeable future. So look forward to that. Thanks for reading.