Classroom of the Elite – Volume 9 – Chapter 6 Introduction
Chapter 6: “Something Vague”
For Hashimoto Masayoshi, the question of whose side he supports was a trivial one.
Or better yet, it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that he didn’t care about it at all.
Regardless of whether the leader of the class turned out to be Sakayanagi or Katsuragi, he would’ve chosen the side that turned out most beneficial to himself. That’s all there was to it. While he was fortunate to have started out in Class A, he was always considering the option of falling down to Class B or C.
The important thing for him was to take up the position that would turn things around in the end.
This was the reason why, after sensing his potential, he had gotten into contact with Ryūen Kakeru after he had quickly risen to power within Class C at the start of the year.
His outstanding talent could’ve taken down both Sakayanagi and Ichinose. Hashimoto had realized that the man had an ominous amount of strength. If Ryūen had asked for it, Hashimoto wouldn’t have hesitated to leak him information about Class A. Of course, this behavior was just espionage done under Sakayanagi’s instruction. However, if Ryūen had the potential to overtake the other classes, he was fully prepared to double-cross even her.
This was the same reason why he had targeted Ichinose in Class B. However, Ichinose was different than Sakayanagi or Ryūen because underhanded deals simply wouldn’t work with her. In response to this, Hashimoto decided not to be too pushy, choosing instead to gradually approach from another angle. While they wouldn’t go as far as to betray Ichinose, he established connections with a certain someone from B class who was close to her.
Hashimoto had promptly set up this type of social network with students from each class immediately after coming to this school.
It was better to prepare as much insurance as possible for the sake of any unexpected situations.
And today, once again, he was making preliminary arrangements in preparation for yet another unexpected situation.
“U-um, Hashimoto-kun. Do you have a minute?”
Within the hallways, after school. A girl from Class A, Motodoi Chikako, called out to Hashimoto from behind. Like Hashimoto, she was a member of the tennis club. She appeared to have run to catch up with him after he had left the classroom. She gave off a slightly fidgety appearance, unable to completely maintain her composure.
Hashimoto immediately understood what was going on without having to hear anything more.
Today was February 14th. He had already experienced this sort of scene several times.
However, even though he understood what was happening, he didn’t let that show on his face. Of course, he wouldn’t say anything either.
“Sure thing, Motodoi. What’s up?”
After getting such a gentle response, Motodoi composed her thoughts and came out with it.
“This is chocolate. Because, uh, it’s Valentine’s day today.”
As she spoke, she held out the chocolate, to which Hashimoto immediately accepted.
“Thanks Motodoi. I’m glad.”
Hashimoto had already noticed that Motodoi had been looking at him with affection as a member of the opposite sex. Thus, this chocolate was most likely meant with romantic intentions. While he was confident that he would succeed were he to confess, he felt nothing towards her. This was because, for better or worse, he saw her as a person who simply wasn’t worth using. He had already judged that there weren’t any merits to going out with her.
“You should show your face around the club every once in a while.”
“Sorry, I’ve been skipping out a lot recently, haven’t I?”
“Definitely. Our senpais have been worried.”
“I’ll keep that in mind. Anyways, I’ll make sure to properly show you my thanks next month.”
Motodoi blushed, nodded, and ran off. It was as if she was escaping from the embarrassing atmosphere.
Despite the fact that there was no possibility that the two of them would get into a relationship, Hashimoto made sure to keep his options open.
After all, maybe there would be some sort of change with her in the future.
In order to make up for this delay, Hashimoto sped up his pace as he moved toward the first-year Class C classroom.
For now, there was somebody far more worthy of his attention than Motodoi.
A male student within Class C, Ayanokōji Kiyotaka.
“Why is it that I care so much about him…”
There was a part of himself that couldn’t help but wonder.
Before the training camp, he had no impression of him. He was just another student with a vaguely familiar face. He could remember that he had run a fierce relay against the former student council president during the sports competition, but that was all he could think of. Even then, Hashimoto didn’t think that his evaluation of someone should change simply because they were quick on their feet. Furthermore, both Sakayanagi and Ryūen were quick to catch on to things like this, yet Ayanokōji hadn’t caught the attention of either of them.
Recently, however, there was an incident that forced him to change his opinion of Ayanokōji.
A curious remark from the current student council president, Nagumo Miyabi, enigmatically claiming that Ayanokōji was somebody that Horikita Manabu holds in higher esteem than anyone. Hashimoto planned on passing it off as a joke, but somehow he was just unable to do so.
As he thought about it again, there had been signs that he had overlooked.
Why did the former student council president and Ayanokōji personally confront each other during the relay?
What if that confrontation was more than just a mere coincidence?
What if it was intentional? Spurred on by some form of goal, pressing them to race against one another?
Doubts like these began to swirl in his mind.
Hashimoto had also yet to be convinced about what had happened to Ryūen, who was said to have been overthrown by Ishizaki and others from his own class. Moreover, the current Class C, who had started out the year at the very bottom of the ladder, was now steadily starting to close the gap with the upper classes.
What if Ayanokōji had actually been involved with each of these events…?
“What if… he’s an existence that surpasses both Sakayanagi and Ryūen…?”
At this point, this train of thought didn’t seem very likely to him.
And that was to be expected. For now, it was nothing more than a mere suspicion accompanied by exaggerated delusions. It was missing something definitive to tie it all together. What Nagumo had said was simply an unrealistic joke, and the reality of what had happened during the relay at the sports festival was nothing more than a fantasy that Hashimoto had come up with to fit his own convenience.
That was why Hashimoto chose to confirm the facts.
He usually spent his time acting under the orders of Sakayanagi, spreading rumors about Ichinose, but recently he had been spending his free time shadowing Ayanokōji, spying in order to find out the truth.
Hashimoto finally reached the Class C classroom, but Ayanokōji was already nowhere to be seen.
“You never do waste time, do you Ayanokōji?”
His pool of friends was rather limited, so he seldom stayed behind in the classroom after school.
Was he with Yukimura and Miyake and that group of close friends today as well? Hashimoto considered it, but saw that both Yukimura and Sakura were still in the classroom, so he quickly dismissed the idea.
Awkwardly watching the students of another class would make him stand out.
To avoid that, immediately after arriving at the classroom, Hashimoto called out to Hirata, who had yet to head out to his club activities.
“Yo, Hashimoto-kun. What’s up?”
“I just came by to see whether or not you’ve gotten yourself a new girlfriend.”
“Is that it? I’m not thinking about finding a new one right now.”
“In the midst of healing your broken heart, are you?”
“Haha… Something like that.”
“I’d like to hear all about it sometime. Anyways, I’ve been asking around for the contact information for the guys I was lodging with back during the training camp. I was looking to catch Ayanokōji, but it looks like he’s gone home already.”
“You didn’t run into him? I think he left just a minute or two ago…”
He had missed him by just a bit. Quickly making the judgment that he could still catch up with him, Hashimoto gave his thanks to Hirata and immediately went back out into the hallway.
The end-of-year exams were coming up soon, so Hashimoto couldn’t afford to keep tailing Ayanokōji every day. He was hoping to come to a definitive conclusion about Ayanokōji soon so that he could turn his full attention to the exams and tackle them at peak condition.
“I’d love to catch onto something new any time now.”
He would make his move at the soonest opportunity. With this conviction, Hashimoto moved forward.
Luckily, Hashimoto caught sight of Ayanokōji standing near the front entryway, his attention focused in on his cell phone. Was he meeting up with someone, or was he just killing some time? Either way, it was a lucky break.
Ayanokōji was always using his cell phone to stay in touch with somebody. Was he just getting in contact with Miyake and the others? Or was he speaking to someone Hashimoto hadn’t ever met before?
The one thing he could say for certain was that Ayanokōji was an unusually easy target to track.
Hashimoto had tailed a fair number of students so far. Katsuragi, Ryūen, Kanzaki, and even Ichinose at times. None of them were particularly easy to keep tabs on. It would be a stroke of good luck to be able to follow one of them once every two days. On the other hand, it would take more than an entire week to find out any new information about them if things went poorly.
However, Ayanokōji lived a monotonous daily life with a very confined amount of friends and social connections.
This made it incredibly easy to anticipate his actions ahead of time. Moreover, Ayanokōji didn’t show a shred caution in regard to his surroundings.
He never took note of what was behind him, never showing any indication that he had sharp senses or a keen intuition.
Even so, Hashimoto wouldn’t allow himself to grow complacent.
Though it might be overcautious, he decided that he would follow Ayanokōji from even farther away than necessary.
At that point, Hashimoto got a phone call from one of his classmates, Naoki Shimizu.
“Hello. Has something happened, Naoki?”
“No… Actually, it’s about this morning… I’ve seriously had enough of this.”
“Ah. It would probably be better for you to forget about it, right? There are just a lot of talkative people in our class.”
A somewhat problematic event had taken place within Class A that morning. Shimizu had confessed to a girl named Nishikawa, only to be rejected, and knowledge of his failure had begun to circulate among the girls of the class. Perhaps Nishikawa had carelessly told one of her friends about the confession, and it just spread around from there. Something like this would happen every once in a while.
“You won’t be able to confess to anyone at this rate if you worry too much about every single thing, you know?”
“Th-that’s right… but I still can’t forgive Nishikawa for spreading it.”
“Well, while I’d love to hear you complain about it, I’m in the middle of something else right now.”
“Oh really? My bad.”
Hashimoto made arrangements to call him back this evening and cut the call.
“This is just how confessions end up when you don’t meet all the conditions to ensure your success.”
With the resolution to comfort his friend later on, Hashimoto returned to his mission of tailing Ayanokōji back to the dormitories.
“If he’s going straight to his room like this, then I suppose I won’t be finding anything new out today either.”
If there was anything painful about tailing Ayanokōji, it would be the overall monotony of the entire thing.
However, after Ayanokōji got into the elevator, it passed the fourth-floor, where his room was located and continued to rise. Hashimoto watched the elevator monitor from the lobby as Ayanokōji disembarked on the girls’ floor.
“If my memory serves me right… that’s the floor Ichinose is on, isn’t it?”
Or was that merely a coincidence, and he was just there in order to meet with another girl?
Though, given the recent events, it was hard for him not to associate things like this with Ichinose.
“Even though it’s weird, it is Ichinose… so isn’t it possible that he’s just making a courtesy visit…?”
While Ayanokōji only has a very confined amount of friends, Ichinose was incredibly popular with students throughout every school year.
It wouldn’t be surprising for her to be friends with Ayanokōji. In addition, that wasn’t even considering how cute she is. It wouldn’t be strange for a student to expect to get something by making her a courtesy visit.
However, Ayanokōji immediately got back into the elevator and rode back down to the fourth floor, where he got back off.
Nothing about it made any sense. Hashimoto continued to watch the monitor as the elevator returned to Ichinose’s floor and several girls from Class B got on. He came to the conclusion that Ayanokōji had run into all of these girls who had come to visit Ichinose before him, and made the decision to turn back after getting cold feet.
Just in case, Hashimoto immediately rode the elevator up to the fourth floor, but Ayanokōji had already disappeared.
It was pretty much guaranteed that he had returned to his room.
“So in the end, I don’t find out anything today either, huh?”
Considering whether or not to call it quits for the day, Hashimoto ultimately decided to ponder the situation for a little while in the lobby.
It was still pretty early. Hashimoto decided that it was still rather probable that Ayanokōji would try to get in contact with Ichinose later on, or even potentially make arrangements with somebody else entirely. In addition, as long as he used the elevator, it didn’t matter if he went upstairs or downstairs because he’d be able to confirm things on the monitor.
Hashimoto’s resolution to stick around paid off after an hour or so.
Ayanokōji boarded the elevator and began to ride down to the first floor.
Furthermore, he hadn’t changed out of his school uniform yet.
“Is he heading back to the school?”
It wouldn’t make any sense for him to head all the way back to school after deliberately heading home.
For instance, it would make sense that he wouldn’t bother to change his clothes if he was simply heading off to the convenience store, but he had his school bag with him.
Hashimoto quickly got up from the sofa and hid in the emergency stairwell.
“I’m looking forward to seeing where this goes from here.”
As if in response to Hashimoto’s wishes, Ayanokōji walked out of the lobby, headed toward a relatively unpopular part of campus. With this, the odds of him heading to the convenience store or the school vanished. In which case, who was he meeting with? No, the place he was heading toward wasn’t suitable for the usual simple meeting with a friend.
Given the situation, anybody would be filled with anticipation about what he’s going to do and who he’s going to meet.
The idea that he was meeting up with someone was effectively certain at this point.
If he’s meeting up with former student council president Horikita, or even Ryūen, things were about to get pretty heated.
However, each and every one of his expectations were spectacularly betrayed by what he saw.
“Woah, woah, are you serious…?”
The person who turned up to meet with Ayanokōji was none other than first-year Class C’s Kei Karuizawa.
She was a girl who, due to her recent break-up with Hirata, had caused a bit of a buzz within Class A. Even though Hashimoto had never had any contact with her so far, he still couldn’t hide his astonishment at her unexpected appearance.
Feelings of weakness began to overwhelm him. The betrayal of all of his expectations.
This had nothing to do with the ‘other side’ of Ayanokōji that Hashimoto had been seeking to uncover. Instead, this was a matter of love. His brain automatically tried to see it in a different light, but no matter how he looked at it, their relationship with one another was clearly beyond that of just friends.
Hashimoto had witnessed Hirata and Karuizawa’s relationship several times before, but he had never felt a strong sense of ‘love’ or ‘intimacy’ between the two of them.
“…I don’t get it. Why Ayanokōji?”
In the first place, which one of them was interested in the other? Or were they both interested in each other? He could posture guesses as much as he wanted, but he would still never come to an answer. After all, at a fundamental level, there are no such things as answers when it comes to love. If you were to objectively compare Ayanokōji with Hirata, 80% of girls would end up choosing Hirata. However, it wouldn’t be strange for the remaining 20% to choose Ayanokōji.
That is to say, if there were 100 people, 20 of them would end up picking Ayanokōji.
In which case…
“Ayanokoji… has been in frequent contact with Karuizawa…?”
Hashimoto immediately abandoned that idea. It was just something he had come up with to explain the current situation, nothing more than an aspect of his imagination. He wouldn’t be able to come to any conclusions without investigating things further. However, due to the low traffic of people through the place they were talking, it was impossible to get closer to hear exactly what they were saying.
“What should I do…”
Just as Hashimoto was pondering about what steps to take next…
There was a sudden development between Karuizawa and Ayanokōji.
Karuizawa handed Ayanokōji an object that she had been holding onto. Today was February 14th. For her to hand something over in a place so obviously outside of the public eye, anyone would be able to tell what she had handed over without actually seeing the gift.
Due to this, it’s clear that, at the very least, Karuizawa favors Ayanokōji.
“Well, at any rate, I guess I can leave it at that for today.”
However, this bit of knowledge was unrelated to what he originally set out to discover.
With this in mind, Hashimoto started off back home. However, he then stopped in place.
“It’s a rare opportunity… Why not challenge him directly?”
Given that there wasn’t very much time left until the end-of-year exams, this could also be the best option available to him.
He could shake things up a bit by forcibly dragging the unrelated Karuizawa into this. It was his chance to expose Ayanokōji’s weaknesses. At the same time, if Ayanokōji doesn’t show any response to his challenge, Hashimoto could conclude that he had nothing to worry about to begin with.
Satisfied with his decision, Hashimoto began walking toward Ayanokōji and Karuizawa.
This part took me forever. You can see by its length that it took a while to simply translate, but even more than that, I made sure to keep the quality and accuracy of the translation at top-notch. There have been a lot of poor translations of this series going around recently, so I wanted to make sure to not have mine be included in that.
Anywho, Part 1 is a bit less than half of the length of this one, and I have tomorrow off due to a holiday so I might be getting the next part out rather soon! (Maybe even as early as tomorrow, but don’t quote me on that.) Please do look forward to it.
As always, please let me know if you find errors with the translation, grammar mistakes, missed punctuation, or really anything else. I love to hear your feedback.
Thanks for waiting.