“Thank you for today, Ayanokouji-kun.”
“Well, I should be the one thanking you since I’ve learned a lot about China just by casually talking with you.”
“Ah! That’s…that’s right. If you say so.”
Without thinking much, I ended up thanking her.
Mii-chan hesitantly scratched her cheek with her finger.
“Before heading back, I’ll have to go check my mailbox for a moment.”
As Hiyori and Mii-chan got into the elevator, I turned to leave.
I check my mailbox once or twice a week.
Of course, other students tend to check theirs at a similar frequency.
Most of the things that arrive in our mailboxes are usually from the school, but packages could also come from personal exchanges between students.
Sometimes, it would be deliveries of items ordered online, too.
But what I wanted to check for was not anything common like this.
“Nothing today either, huh?”
I had been checking my mail regularly since my father’s visit to the school.
After all, it wouldn’t be strange if he would try to make contact with me.
As there was nothing waiting for me in my mailbox, I returned to the elevator, only to find Hiyori waiting for me.
“Do you have a moment?”
We moved away from the elevator towards the sofa at the front of the lobby.
“I wanted to ask you something earlier, but… I did not want to do it in front of Mii-chan.”
It was only after carefully scanning our surroundings that Hiyori opened her mouth to speak.
“Do you know anything about what’s going on with Ichinose-san?”
“You know what? If you are talking about strange rumors, then I might have heard something.”
“Yes, that’s what I am talking about. Do you have any idea of who has been spreading around these rumors?”
“No… I have no idea.”
It would be easy to name Sakayanagi or even Hashimoto, but I decided against it.
“Honestly, I do not want to watch Ichinose-san suffer like this anymore. She treats students like me with barely any friends just as nicely as she treats others.”
I was sure that Hiyori had been in the same group as Ichinose during the training camp.
After eating the same food and sleeping in the same place, she had formed a closer bond with her than with other students.
Hiyori looked at me with hidden determination.
“Naturally, I don’t like to hurt anyone, but in order to protect our friends when the need arises, I think we sometimes have to fight.”
“That’s right, even if you cannot save everyone.”
“Even though Ichinose-san and I are enemies, there must be some way to help her. I haven’t thought of a way to do that yet, but…could you help me?”
“Cooperation, huh? You should consult with Horikita then.”
To be honest, I was thinking about introducing Horikita to Hiyori.
“Horikita-san, you say?”
However, Hiyori’s expression didn’t lighten up.
“Maybe Class C will be willing to help Ichinose, too.”
Then there could be a siege of 3 classes against Class A.
However, Hiyori still didn’t show any signs that she was happy about it.
“Ayanokouji-kun, aren’t you able to do anything about it yourself?”
“ My presence has no influence over Class C at all.”
“Is that so…?”
She tilted her head questioningly.
“For the girls, it’s Horikita. For the boys, it’s Hirata. You’ll have no choice but to talk to one of them.”
She shrugged, rather disheartened.
“No… It’s just that I don’t really know Horikita-san or Hirata-kun… I thought that if it were you, Ayanokouji-kun, then…”
She dropped her shoulders, looking discouraged. I felt almost shocked looking at her reaction.
“I am sorry. I can’t do what I can’t do.”
“No… I was just being selfish, thinking only of what is convenient for me and speaking without considering how things are for you.”
After saying this, she bowed her head.
“For the time being, do you want me to begin the conversation over this subject?”
“If you say so. Could you do that for me?”
Hiyori began saying that, but then…
“I’m sorry. Let’s do it another time. If, by any chance, our conversation helps spread the rumors any further, then there will be an increased chance of causing more trouble for Ichinose.”
I did not know what kind of move those who have declared war against Ichinose would make next.
Poorly thought out provocation could have the opposite effect.
There was also the fear that the rumors about Ichinose might be closer to the truth than we’d like to think.
When I returned to the room, a message arrived. It was from Horikita.
[I wonder if this is a good time?]
I stared at it without replying. The message continued:
[Since the message has been marked as read, I will choose to continue with what I have to say. Tonight, Ichinose-san will come to my room. Will you come as well?]
What an unexpected message.
I meant to just vacantly look at it without responding, but I ended up replying.
[How did things turn out this way?]
[There’s an alliance with Class B. It’s reasonable for them to reach out for help depending on situation. However, it’s hard to see the full picture this time. That’s why I was thinking of asking her directly about this.]
It seemed that she had contacted Ichinose and asked her if they could meet directly.
That was quite daring.
It would also have been easy for Ichinose to decline.
Maybe Horikita would tell me about the conversation if I asked her later.
However, she couldn’t know everything.
Even a close friend like Kanzaki didn’t know everything about Ichinose.
Therefore, would it be better if I directly met and talked to Ichinose, since that would bring me closer to the truth?
The problem was that if I were to step in here, I would also end up becoming involved in this.
What should I do?
After thinking for a while, I sent Horikita a short response.
[At seven o’clock.]
I would have to be careful so as to not get caught by other students.
[Got it. I’ll contact you right before I leave.]
I decided to meet Ichinose together with Horikita.