Youkoso V9 C4

Ichinose’s Secret, Kamuro’s Secret

TL: Graze
ED: Graze
PR: Josh-kun


It was a Friday, four days after Kanzaki reached out to Hashimoto.

The rumors about Ichinose had been spreading more each day, and it had gotten to the point where it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that all of the students in the school had heard about them by now.

However, Ichinose herself didn’t appear to have reported anything about them to the school.

She gave off an appearance that told everyone that she didn’t care very much about the rumors, and she spent each day as she always had.

Despite being harassed with unpleasant rumors, Ichinose stood firm. And as she expected, eventually, students began to speak in support of her. Students were saying things like: “The rumors really were just rumors.” “She was totally being framed.” and “They were all lies.”

All gossip has an expiration date.

The plan to defame Ichinose had failed miserably.

She had successfully managed to get through it by simply staying silent. Eventually, everyone began to shift their attention to studying earnestly for the upcoming final exams.

Though, during this time, another incident occurred. One that once again stoked the flame of the rumors throughout the school.

It was Friday, after school.

On my way back home from the school building, I bore witness to a large crowd of people as I entered the dorm lobby.

A scene like this taking place as I returned to the dormitory was one I felt like I had experienced before.

“Deja vu, is it?”

Coincidentally, Katsuragi was standing in the same spot as he had been back then. The only difference was that this time Yahiko was also standing beside him. Since there didn’t seem to be anyone I was acquainted with nearby, I decided to approach them and called out.

“What’s with all the commotion?”

“Ah. It seems like a letter has been put into everyone’s mailboxes. It’s similar to that case that happened earlier this year.”

Katsuragi mumbled, crossing his arms in dissatisfaction.

“Didn’t you get one in yours as well? Ayanokouji?”

Yahiko pressed me to go look, so I lightly nodded in response.

“I’ll go check to make sure.”

I went over to my mailbox, turned the dial to the right combination, and took a look inside.

There, someone had neatly inserted a paper, folded in the same 4-fold style the last one had been.

If it was the exact same type of message as last time, it would be a print. That is to say, it would be a printed copy.

Naturally, it’s impossible to tell the difference between a handwritten letter and a printed copy when it’s folded like this.

I slowly opened the paper.

『Ichinose Honami is a criminal.』

That was written inside.

However, this time the name of the sender wasn’t included like it was in the letter last time around.

It was just this one line.

The font it was written in was also a standard one, making the entire letter come across as unusually simple. Since it doesn’t seem like the type of thing that would be printed at the convenience store, it was probably printed with a personal printer.

The one sentence reminded me of the rumors that had quieted down.

Additionally, the letter went one step further by calling her a ‘criminal’.

Though, there was no mention of what she had done to deserve that title…

“I’m sure Ichinose will be surprised by this.”

“But if it’s presented in such a straightforward way, won’t it cause the sender all sorts of problems? Isn’t there an issue with doing something so malicious in such a public way?”

Yahiko was asking Katsuragi if the letter was a poor move for the sender.

“Indeed, this situation is quite different than what happened last time. Back then, it was just an allegation that Ichinose could’ve been illegally amassing private points. It turned out that she hadn’t done anything wrong. The school even made an unprecedented announcement by recognizing the authenticity of her large numbers of points. However, this time the letter is obviously meant to defame Ichinose. If she was to report it to the school and ask for help with it, it’s possible that they’ll be able to track down the person who sent out the letters.”

“The sender is an idiot then.”

“No, I’m not so sure.”

“Really?”

“This person… It’s impossible for them not to understand something so simple.”

“Huh… Is it possible that the person spreading the rumors… That Katsuragi-san knows who it is?”

“It’s nothing more than a rough idea.”

Even though Sakayanagi had given me advance notice about her plans, to the rest of the school, she has ostensibly denied her involvement with these rumors. It’s possible that Hashimoto acted alone, or acted under the instructions of one of the second or third years. There’s also a chance that the source of this rumor is someone completely different.

However, Katsuragi said that he had a rough idea about the source in this case.

Which means that Sakayanagi is the clear favorite.

“Whether or not the school takes action here. It will depend on Ichinose as the person at the very center of this incident.”

The person responsible for sending out these letters is convinced that Ichinose won’t report anything to the school, just like with the rumors. That is, they’ve determined that no matter what they do, Ichinose will choose to remain silent.

When Ichinose doesn’t take action against the letters or the rumors, the school also isn’t able to take action.

In the middle of all of this, Ichinose herself entered the lobby. She had probably been contacted by one of her classmates in Class B and hurriedly returned to the dorm.

A friend immediately gave her one of the letters and she looked through it.

Katsuragi, me, and about 10 other students stood in place and watched Ichinose.

“…”

Ichinose didn’t say a word. She just looked down and stared at the letter.

The sentence on the letter takes no more than one second for somebody to read in their mind.

From the looks of it, Ichinose spent dozens of second reading that single line of text over and over.

“…This is in the mailboxes?”

“Yeah… It’s terrible, isn’t it? It’s probably in every first-year mailbox…”

One of the girls from Class B, Mako Amikura, spoke as she approached and hugged Ichinose.

“Hey, you don’t need to put up with this anymore. Why don’t we talk to the teachers? Something like this shouldn’t be forgiven.”

“That’s right! If we bring it to the teachers, they’ll definitely find the culprit!”

So far there had just been invisible rumors, but this time was different. There was now something that could serve as physical evidence. There was clear proof that someone has been maliciously attacking Ichinose.

“I’m okay. Something like this isn’t enough to get to me.”

“Y-You have to! If you don’t, the horrible rumors about Honami-chan are going to spread everywhere!”

It’s no surprise that her classmates were desperately trying to convince her to reconsider.

Even if nine out of ten people don’t believe in the rumors, it’s still a big deal if that one remaining person does. That student’s impression of Ichinose Honami will slowly deteriorate.

Ichinose is able to decide to stay silent without any hesitation, but the people around her are different.

They’re all looking for some way to help her. After all, proving her innocence would also lead to being able to enact punishment on the culprit responsible for all of this. However, doing that would only push Ichinose into a corner.

“I’m sorry everyone, for continuing to trouble all of you. But please, don’t worry about me.”

With those words, she smiled at the girls of Class B.

Without a doubt, these letters were distributed out to the mailboxes during the middle of the night when everyone was asleep. Since very few people check their mailboxes in the mornings, the big discovery came in the evening after everybody had come back from school.

All that had to happen then was for somebody to find the letter and tell Ichinose.

All this time, a lone girl had been carefully watching over the reactions of the upset Class B students.

Katsuragi was glaring at her with a sharp look in his eye.

She was a first-year student of Class A, Kamuro Masumi. A girl often seen together with Sakayanagi, but today, she appeared to be alone.

“Is something up with Kamuro?”

“No… It’s nothing.”

Katsuragi didn’t give an answer. He tossed his letter into the trashcan, called for the elevator, and got in with Yahiko as it had been waiting on the first floor. Katsuragi’s expression remained stern even until the final moment when the doors shut. Watching the elevator go up, I decided to return to my room as well.

(Introduction End)

(Part 1)

My room was located on the fourth floor of the dorms, Room 401.

As soon as I stepped into the elevator, Kamuro got on at the same time.

“Which floor?”

Even though I asked her this as I stood in front of the buttons, she didn’t give me an answer, so the elevator doors just closed in silence.

Shortly after a quiet ride, the elevator reached the fourth floor.

I got off the elevator. So did Kamuro. It was almost as if she was following me.

‘Just a mere coincidence’, ‘she only got off on this floor to meet up with some guy’, a reason like these didn’t seem very likely.

As soon as I reached the door to my room, which just happened to be right next to the elevator, I turned and asked:

“Is there something you want from me?”

“I want to talk.”

“If possible, I’d prefer that you’d have said something sooner.”

“What, do you have plans?”

“No. Do you have an issue with talking right here?”

“I’m sensitive to the cold. If it’s alright with you, could you invite me in?”

Even though she had asked me if I was alright with it, her request ended up coming across as more of a threat instead.

“That’s fine…”

I unlocked the door and we went inside my room.

Kamuro’s expression didn’t change at all. She looked around my room with a serious look on her face.

“What a dull room.”

“Is that really the first thing you’re going to say after forcing your way in?”

“When did I force you to do anything? You rightfully gave me permission.”

With that said, Kamuro sat down on my bed.

“The way you went about getting said permission… Nevermind. So now…?”

“Get me something to drink. We’ll be talking for a while.”

Really, what a shameless girl.

“Well, I’ll make some coffee or tea.”

“You don’t have hot chocolate?”

“…I do.”

“I’ll have hot chocolate then.”

I clearly presented her with two options, yet she unexpectedly demanded a third.

“So what is it that you wanted to talk about? If it was too cold in the hallway, we could’ve talked down in the lobby.”

Since the heater was running in the lobby, we should have been able to talk there without any problems.

While preparing the hot chocolate, I took control of our conversation.

“There isn’t anyone who can bother us here. Talking in your room was for the best.”

“What are you wanting to say?”

To be honest, I wasn’t interested and didn’t want to hear about it.

“Does my presence make you feel apprehensive?”

“It would be strange if it didn’t. A girl I have no intimate connections with, who also comes from the rival Class A, suddenly wants to come to my room?”

“Hmm, that sure is nothing like how Yamauchi reacted.”

She replied, looking straight at me as if daring me to do something.

“Curious?”

“Not at all.”

“Really. Then I won’t touch on that subject anymore. It doesn’t matter anyway.”

While it’s possible that she has someone eavesdropping over the phone or she’s concealing a tape recorder, Kamuro is in a somewhat special position. Since Sakayanagi already knows about me, it isn’t necessary for Kamuro to come here looking to catch me off guard.

If needed, Sakayanagi is in a position where she can wage war against me anytime she wants. At the moment, the only reason she doesn’t is because she doesn’t want me to stand out.

“That letter from earlier, about Ichinose. What do you think?”

“What do you mean?”
ln_vol_09-07 (2)
“Exactly what I said. Do you believe that she’s a criminal?”

“I don’t know. I’m not interested either.”

“Even if you’re not interested you should still have an opinion about it. Do you think Ichinose is a good person or a bad person?”

“You can’t say that someone’s a bad person just because they’re a criminal. Just like how you can’t say that someone’s a good person just because they aren’t.”

In the first place, the definitions of good and bad are ambiguous and subjective. Depending on how you look at it, what’s considered good and what’s considered bad can change quickly.

“…”

Kamuro stared at me listlessly.

She had no intention of allowing me to move the conversation in this direction.

At this point, there was no way for me to continue avoiding the essence of the conversation.

“I think the letters are just like the rumors that somebody somewhere has been spreading.”

“Yes. I did hear that someone somewhere has been spreading rumors.”

“It’s conjecture, but I think some of those rumors are true or at least come close to the truth. Which is why Ichinose wouldn’t fight back against the rumors, or in this case, won’t fight back against the letters. If she did, the truth that she’s been trying to keep hidden would be revealed.”

“Her strategy is to continue to ignore it so that the rumors don’t end up as anything more than suspicion.”

“Yeah. However, that doesn’t solve the problem. If the person who’s spreading the rumors knows the truth, eventually more and more specific rumors will emerge until Ichinose admits to it. It’s highly probable that when that time comes, she won’t be able to simply gloss over it.”

The hot water began to boil so I poured it into a cup.

Then I put the cup of hot chocolate on the table. Kamuro didn’t reach for it.

“Not going to drink it?”

“I’m sensitive to hot liquid.”

I wonder just how true that really is.

“It’s just like you thought. Right now, Ichinose is being targeted by a student who knows the secret that she wants to keep hidden.”

“Why do you know something like that?”

“You know why. Sakayanagi said it in front of you, after all.”

Of course, I remember that.

However, Kamuro herself shouldn’t have any reason to tell me that.

Was this also one of Sakayanagi’s strategies?

“That said, Sakayanagi doesn’t know that I’m here right now talking with you about this. She’d probably be angry if she knew.”

“In other words, you’re saying you betrayed Sakayanagi?”

“That’s one way to put it.”

“Sorry, I can’t believe that.”

“I suppose that makes sense. Therefore, I’ll tell you the secret that Ichinose has been hiding as well. After all, tomorrow or the day after, everyone else will have probably already heard about it.”

In which case, you can prove to me that the things you’re saying are true, huh?

“But before I tell you about that, I need to tell you about something else. About why I’ve been letting Sakayanagi push me around like she has been.”

“Your own personal story?”

“I know you’re not interested, but you’re going to hear me out.”

It didn’t matter if I was interested or not, I planned on listening and hearing her out anyway.

Because if I didn’t, she was never going to leave.

(Part 1 End)

(Part 2)

It was about a week after the school entrance ceremony when Sakayanagi first contacted me.

On my way back to the dormitories, I stopped by the convenience store. I quickly finished my business in the store and left.

“Just a moment please.”

In route between the convenience store and the dormitories, one of my female classmates called out to me.

“What do you want?”

“It hasn’t been very long since we started school here, so I thought that I’d like to talk with you for a little bit, Kamuro-san.”

“You’ve remembered my name.”

“I have memorized the names and faces of all my classmates.”

That said, this girl’s pace was very slow.

The walking cane she grasped in one hand was more than enough proof to show that her legs were bad.

I remembered her name- Arisu Sakayanagi. She was very conspicuous because of her physical handicap. Even though I had no intention of remembering the names of my classmates, hers had managed to stick with me for some reason.

“May I accompany you on the way back?”

I would usually decline. However, although it wasn’t directly because of her bad legs, the mood made it hard to turn her down.

“Suit yourself.”

“Thank you very much.”

She gave a pleasant smile and sped up a little in order to match my pace beside me.

“I’m not going to help you if you fall from overdoing it.”

“I’ll be okay. This cane and I are old friends.”

That said, she still wasn’t moving very quickly.

“Haa…”

Even though I let out an intentionally heavy sigh, Sakayanagi didn’t seem to pay it any mind.

Her outward appearance was frail, but she had the heart of a lion.

“By the way, what were you doing at the convenience store just now?”

“What?”

“From what I can see, it doesn’t seem like you bought anything.”

“So what? Sometimes you just can’t find anything you want.”

I attempted to end the conversation there, but Sakayanagi grabbed ahold of my arm.

“You were shoplifting, were you not?”

Sakayanagi asked, looking me straight in the eyes.

Her eyes were shining. It was as if she had just found herself a new interesting toy.

“While I’m guessing that you’ve scoped out the place a few times already to determine the positions of the cameras, was this your first time doing it at this school? Or how many times does this make it now?”

“Are you sure I stole something?”

“Yes. It seems like you aren’t taking me very seriously, but I am confident. If I wasn’t, I wouldn’t have asked you if you shoplifted something.”

“Well. That’s true.”

Sakayanagi reached out to me because she had witnessed me steal from the store.

“Even if I did steal something, so what? Gonna tattle to the school?”

“Let me see. While it would be very simple for me to report this to the school, please hear me out before it gets to that point.”

“Huh?”

Without making it clear whether or not she even took notice of my confusion, Sakayanagi continued:

“Your execution was magnificent. What surprised me the most was how you kept your composure. Normally, people would buy cheap things like gum or candy in order to ease their guilt. However, you don’t seem like you’ve ever done that. This also proves that shoplifting has become routine for you.”

Sakayanagi had hit the mark. After seeing me in action once, she could tell that I had been doing it for a long time. But, what does that matter?

I had no intention of letting this go on for very long.

No matter how good my execution was, the fact that she had seen me in the act would never go away.

“Do what you want.”

I reached into my bag and took out the can of beer I had stolen from the convenience store.

Generally speaking, people under the age of 20 weren’t allowed to buy it.

It was only sold here for the teachers and other staff living on campus.

“Hurry up and contact the school.”

Even though I said this, Sakayanagi asked me something entirely unrelated to that.

“Do you drink often?”

“Hah? …No. I don’t have any interest in liquor either.”

“In other words, you don’t use shoplifting as an outlet to ease the burdens of everyday life, but instead as a means for you to savor a thrill and experience the guilt of sin.”

ln_vol_09-08

She proceeded to arbitrarily analyze the situation.

“I get it. You’re able to calmly analyze a situation. So how about we go and quickly hand me over to the school?”

“Are you certain you want that? If the school finds out you shoplifted, you probably wouldn’t be able to avoid suspension.”

“So?”

“It has yet to be one week since the entrance ceremony. There are still many things, both enjoyable and not so enjoyable, to look forward to after this, yes?”

“If you’re not going to contact the school, I’ll do it myself.”

I tried to take out my phone, but she stopped me.

“I’ve grown to like you, Masumi Kamuro-san. You have to become my first friend.”

With that, she urged me to put my phone away.

“What are you saying?”

“I’ll keep your secret, so in return, please help me out with a few things.”

“That… isn’t what I’d call a friend.”

“Is that so?”

“Besides, do you think I’ll just obediently listen to you?”

“Indeed, even if I was to report you to the school, you likely wouldn’t suffer very much damage. But even so, your status as a shoplifter would then be exposed. If that were to happen, wouldn’t that cause issues with your ability to shoplift again in the future?”

“Not only are you saying that you’ll let me get away with it this time, but I’d even be able to do it more if I wanted to?”

“You’re free to do whatever you want. I won’t be getting involved with that. In the first place, even if I appealed to you and told you that what you’ve been doing isn’t acceptable from a moral standpoint, it still wouldn’t be able to make you change your ways. Or am I wrong?”

“That… Well, I guess…”

“Still, I believe following my instructions will be anything but boring. That place in your heart that could only be satisfied with shoplifting… Perhaps I’ll be able to find something else that can take its place.”

That was my first encounter with Arisu Sakayanagi.

(Part 2 End)

(Part 3)

“-Ah, how tiring. It’s been quite a while since I last sat down and said so much like that.”

Finished with her story, Kamuro looked up at me with the same serious expression she had at the start.

“In short, I’m a habitual shoplifter.”

“Even recently?”

“Sakayanagi has been working me hard. I haven’t had the spare time to steal anything.”

Even though it wasn’t something she wanted, she didn’t seem to be unsatisfied about it.

Before Sakayanagi, Kamuro probably hadn’t been relied on before. She had been holding a darkness in her heart.

Still, it was necessary for Sakayanagi to get Kamuro in a position where she wouldn’t be able to continue committing crimes.

Therefore, Sakayanagi cleverly took advantage of her. If Kamuro was to continue shoplifting, sooner or later, she’d be tracked down.

It wouldn’t matter if she was stealing outside of school grounds, but she was doing it from within the confined school campus.

When the store eventually notices what’s been going on with their inventory, it wouldn’t take them long to figure out the truth.

If that were to happen, Class A would definitely suffer a non-trivial amount of damage.

“Back before the training camp, Sakayanagi had said that you and Ichinose were both hiding the same secret.”

In other words, assuming that everything Kamuro just said really is true, Ichinose has a history with shoplifting as well.

“That’s exactly where I was going with this.”

“Regardless, what are you hoping to accomplish by revealing your past to me?”

Depending on the situation, it wouldn’t be impossible to look back into her past and investigate her crimes.

In which case, Kamuro would suffer alone.

“I don’t particularly like Sakayanagi or Ichinose. But, to be honest, the fact that Ichinose has been stealing as well really hit me hard. She’s so incredibly popular that she really ought to be entirely satisfied with what she has, but honestly, the same should go for me.”

Kamuro laughed in self-derision.

“Stop Sakayanagi. You can do that, can’t you?”

“So you’re saying you want me to help Ichinose?”

“Yes. As it is now, Ichinose will definitely be crushed. I’m not talking about her being crushed physically, I mean her heart.”

“I see.”

It’s difficult for me to confirm if what Kamuro has been saying is true, and it’s just as difficult for her to prove it.

Even if the store noticed a difference between their digital stock and their physical inventory, it would still be very hard to determine the cause of it. After all, it could’ve been a store employee making a handling error. While she did begin shoplifting immediately after enrollment, she didn’t repeatedly steal the same item several times. It was a one-time affair.

It would also be impossible to ask the store to show me the surveillance footage.

The only move I could make would be to report Kamuro’s theft to the convenience store and the school authorities. But even then, going about doing that would just be too disadvantageous for me, regardless of whether her story is true or not.

Even if I assume that what she said is true, I don’t want to obediently follow along with what she’s asking of me.

While it’s probably true that she’s dissatisfied with Sakayanagi, there’s little incentive for her to betray Sakayanagi just to ask someone unknown like me for help.

In which case, what’s the point of all of this?

Thinking about it reasonably, this was all probably carried out per Sakayanagi’s instructions.

She probably decided to use Ichinose as the medium for getting into a head-on confrontation with me.

“So, you think I’m lying?”

After a long period of consideration, Kamuro broke the silence.

“To be honest, there’s no absolute guarantee that what you said is true.”

Of course, after listening to her, it was clear that she was almost certainly telling the truth.

Even so, I didn’t admit this because of Kamuro’s close connection with Sakayanagi.

“…I see. In which case, should I just go and prove it to you?”

“Can you?”

“Probably.”

As she said that, she took out her student ID card and handed it to me.

“Well then, wait here and don’t lock the door.”

With that, Kamuro left the room.

No way, is she planning on going and stealing something right now to prove she’s a shoplifter?

I looked at her card absentmindedly for a short while, and after about 10 minutes, Kamuro came back. She took something out from her clothes and showed it to me.

“Hey now…”

It seems like my guess hit the mark.

“While I thought about taking a pack of gum or something, I grabbed a beer. This way was more credible.”

If it was something like gum that anyone could purchase, it would’ve been simple for her deceive me just by purchasing it in advance. But it’s an entirely different story when it comes to alcohol. Even if she was to go and borrow an ID card from another student, it still wouldn’t have been possible for her to purchase this beverage. It’s impossible for students to purchase age-restricted goods. Along with that, it’s unrealistic to think that she utilized the school’s working force or the teachers on campus. There was no mistaking that this was stolen merchandise.

Did she do it in order to gain my trust?

“Get it now?”

At that, Kamuro began to put the beer away, but I reached out my hand.

“Just in case, let me make sure it’s authentic. It could be fake.”

“…Idiot. Could I even make something like that?”

Kamuro showed reluctance for a moment, but it didn’t take long for her to hand it over.

It was ice-cold, as though it had just been purchased from the convenience store.

I slowly analyzed the surface of the can. It was definitely an authentic alcoholic beverage.

“If it’s so important, you can just have it.”

“No need.”

In the unlikely event that the can was found in my room, things would become troublesome.

Kamuro took the beer out of my hand and began lightly tossing the can in the air.

“Anyway, do you believe me?”

“You showed me the real thing. I can’t not believe you.”

“I’m glad to hear that.”

“Well, why me?”

“There’s nobody else I can count on in this school other than you. You should know that much.”

I picked up the cup of hot chocolate that I had prepared for Kamuro. At this point, I was confident that she wouldn’t actually take a drink. It had already gotten warm because around ten minutes had passed.

“There isn’t any benefit in it for me.”

“Maybe so.”

Seemingly satisfied with that, Kamuro stood up.

“I’ll be looking forward to the end results.”

Like that, Kamuro tried to one-sidedly end the conversation and began to leave the room.

“Wait a moment.”

“…What?”

“You forgot your ID card.”

Realizing that she had totally forgotten it, she grabbed her student ID card with her other hand. With that, Kamuro had finally left.

Though, she really presented me with something troublesome.

Is ignoring Ichinose’s current situation still the right choice to make?

“No… Am I sure about that?”

Rather, it may be a better choice to take advantage of this opportunity.

I grabbed my student ID card and my cell phone and left my room, headed toward the convenience store.

On the way, I got a call from Horikita’s older brother.

I had thought that I’d finally be able to relax after the uninvited guest left but…

Nonetheless, the caller was someone unexpected. It wasn’t going to be a meaningless call.

“There are a few things I want to talk to you about.”

The older Horikita spoke just after I pressed the answer button.

“Is it urgent?”

“Depending on the situation, it may already be too late. It’s about my sister.”

“…About your sister?”

This was also unexpected.

The older Horikita wouldn’t be bringing up anything about his younger sister unless the circumstances were extreme.

“Kikyou Kushida. She made contact with Miyabi Nagumo.”

“Really.”

I was surprised, but at the same time, I was impressed at the speed of the older Horikita’s information network.

“I thought that you were surrounded with enemies. You’ve done really well to acquire this type of information. Who did you hear this from?”

“This information came from Kiriyama. It’s clear that my relationship with Nagumo deteriorated at the last training camp. He’s definitely going to try something else. I’ll have to take action at this point.”

Vice President Kiriyama, huh?

As I thought in silence, the older Horikita continued.

“You can’t completely trust him, can you?”

“I don’t know Kiriyama as well as you do.”

“That’s fine. You always err on the side of caution.”

As the former student council president, Horikita would always approach others with a certain amount of trust, whether it was Kiriyama or Nagumo. Until there were any suspicions or he was betrayed, his trust in them was set in stone. I would never be able to imitate this type of behavior.

“So what happened?”

“She asked him for assistance with expelling Suzune Horikita. A very bold move.”

“I wonder what happened that prompted her to change strategies?”

As her penalty for losing the bet with Horikita, Kushida gave her word that she wouldn’t interfere in the future.

That said, she clearly had no intention of keeping it.

Just as she tried to use Ryuuen to achieve her goal, she’s now reached out to use Nagumo as well. After seeing what Nagumo did at the training camp, it’s not a surprising action for her to take.

Of course, Kushida should’ve also noticed. Even though she managed to push Horikita into a desperate situation, she’s only gotten herself into one as well. However, necessity knows no law. I felt like she had reached that resolution. To be honest, I had thought that she jumped the gun a bit by siding with Ryuuen, but getting close to Nagumo here isn’t a bad idea for her. If she sides with an upperclassman, there wouldn’t be an additional person who knows her past after they graduate.

However, that assumes that Nagumo is a trustworthy person in the first place.

“After this, Nagumo or the people near him are going to be taking measures against Suzune.”

“What do you want me to do? You’re not asking me to protect your little sister, are you?”

“If Suzune drops out of the school in the future, that’s her own responsibility. However, Kushida also listed your name as a troublesome existence.”

“I see…”

While Nagumo may not have very much interest in me, hearing my name come up over and over will eventually clue him in anyway.

In other words, if I don’t cut the connection before it’s too late, I’ll keep finding myself getting involved with more trouble.

“What’s the possibility that Nagumo got in touch with Hashimoto?”

“What’s your reason for asking such a question?”

“I had noticed a slight change in Hashimoto’s behavior between the beginning and the end of the training camp. I wasn’t sure back then, but after meeting up with him again recently, I realized that this change wasn’t just something I imagined, making the whole thing seem even more suspicious. That is to say, Hashimoto heard something about me from someone during the end of the training camp.”

The number of people in a position where they would tell Hashimoto what they know about me is extremely limited.

“It’s as you say. During the training camp, Nagumo told Hashimoto about you. That said, Hashimoto still probably hasn’t reached the conclusion that you’re the student manipulating Suzune.”

“I see.”

So he’s poking around to find out the truth?

“I don’t think there’s any need for me to ask, but… Are you dissatisfied with this?”

“No. Even if I had known already, the situation would’ve still ended up this way.”

“I suppose.”

The older Horikita muttered in response.

It doesn’t matter if one of Sakayanagi’s followers is distrustful of me.

As long as I don’t do anything, they won’t find out anything no matter how long they search for clues. Even if they think of a strategy, once Sakayanagi gives the thumbs down, the matter is over. It was a lot easier than dealing with Ryuuen or Nagumo.

Nagumo, however, has all his bases covered. It’s a little inappropriate to simply wait and see what happens at this point.

“I’ve given you the information. It’s up to you to decide what to do with it.”

“I will.”

The call disconnected.

In this school, this type of information means quite a lot. Every day, someone is always crafting a plan to best someone else. In that sense, the older Horikita is useful as one of my information sources. While he’s not as adaptable as Nagumo and doesn’t have as large of an information network, his credibility and accuracy are far higher.

In any case, sparks are starting to fly. In order to stop the problem as soon as possible, I’ll have to be the one to make the first move.

(Chapter 4 End)


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