I couldn’t join the Ayanokouji group because I went home late.
I returned to my dorm room before seven o’clock, and found a paper bag in front of the door.
Looking inside there were two differently wrapped boxes.
One was square, the other had a circular shape. Each name was written by hand. They were Valentine’s day chocolates from Haruka and Airi.
Based on what was written in the chat room, both Akito and Keisei had received the same things.
I returned to my room and arranged all the chocolates on my desk.
“I never expected that I’d get five of them”
Kei, Airi, Haruka, Hiyori, and also… one more.
A box of chocolates wrapped with a cute pink ribbon.
Just after ten o’clock at night, I went out into the hallway in plain clothes with a hood and boarded the elevator.
I could not let the installed camera in the elevator catch my face.
So, that even if an unlikely event of a problem occurred, I should be able to avoid it.
Ideally, it would have been better to meet in a different place, but if you are in poor physical condition, you can’t help it.
Given the fact that it wouldn’t be strange for her to be sleeping at this time of night, I had Horikita let me know how to get in contact with Ichinose ahead of time, so to check. I had already sent her a text message and confirmed that she was still awake, so I moved forward with my plan.
However, I did not inform her that I would visit her, in her room.
I reached Ichinose’s floor and stood in front of the door.
I rang her doorbell.
10 seconds, 20 seconds.
I could not hear any sound from inside.
I pressed her doorbell, again.
Of course, Ichinose would be confused by a midnight visit.
After 30 seconds passed, I called out to her.
“It’s me Ichinose. Ayanokouji”
It would be a problem for me to stay on this floor at that time, already past the curfew.
Ichinose, too, should understand that.
She would not choose to carelessly expose someone in danger.
“…Ayanokouji-kun. What happened?”
Ichinose’s voice echoed through the door. But as far as her voice itself, it sounded weak.
Immediately after talking, I could hear coughing sounds from within the room. It was difficult to determine if she was really in a bad physical condition by sound alone.
“I have something important to tell you. I would like to talk to you in person, is that alright?”
“Honestly, I think it’s going to be troublesome if I am seen by any of the girls, right now”
I push the situation a little more forcefully
“Please wait a minute”
Soon after saying that, I heard the sound of unlocking the room.
Ichinose, who opened the door, appeared to be in an incredibly bad mood.
“Hey, just now, you have been a little pushy, Ayakouji-kun”
She was obviously not well, she could not hide that, even after wearing a mask.
She was not feigning to be sick after all.
“I’m sorry. I’m sure I got a bit aggressive. You look to be in a really bad shape.”
“Yeah… I just ended up overdoing myself….”
“My apologies for visiting you at such a bad time”
“It’s fine. The fever is almost gone, already. How should I say it, I only get the feeling of being overslept and hungry, you know? Ah! Sorry, but could you wear that mask?”
So as to not have me catch her cold, Ichinose presented me with another mask.
My immune system is much stronger than the average, but nobody can be absolutely safe about things like this. If I was to recklessly refuse her offer and get sick later, Ichinose would probably end up regretting it. So, I accepted her offer without hesitation and put on the mask.
“So, did you go to the hospital?”
“I went during weekdays”
Ichinose rested with a temporary illness due to the prevalent rumors.
It seemed that so many students thought, but apparently that was not the case.
There seemed to be no doubt that she was sick after all.
“You were worried that I was having a break because of the rumors. Thank you for your concern.”
Did she see through my intentions?
“During my illness, you are the first person that I met face to face, Ayanokouji-kun”
“I’m sorry for the students who wanted to come to see me when the fever was terrible, but I turned them down because I was having such a terrible time. Since then, other friends seemed to be reluctant to come, probably thinking, that I’ve been depressed.”
I was the one who came to visit her much later than anyone else and ironically and yet, I was the first person to actually meet with her.
Ichinose was actually recuperating from her illness. However, given how she had handled herself so far, it was obvious that she was also the type that attentively makes sure that her physical condition stays healthy. Given how quickly the end-of-year exams were coming up, Ichinose should’ve wanted to avoid getting sick as much as possible. There was no doubt that this cold of hers came as a result of her recent mental trauma and the weakening of her own immune system.
“I am not going to skip school because of a stupid rumor”
Well, she would not recognize that part by herself.
“Tough, you say… Oh, I’m sorry. It would be better to have the door closed. I was airing the room earlier, but it is a bit cold, now….And please wash your hands thoroughly after you return to your room”
In the room, a humidifier was working to prevent the air from becoming too dry. The common cold virus increases in the air under low temperature and drying conditions. For that reason, the first priority is to create an environment where the humidity can be raised and the virus can become inactive. Neglecting these precautions, increases the possibility that the cold will last for a long time or that it will be transferred to the visitors who come to visit. In fact, the main reason why colds tend to drag on during the winter months is because of the dryness of the air.
However, it is strange that these days girls often go up to my room or I visit the girls to their rooms and nothing of these visits is related to romance.
Ichinose looked at me with a strange expression as I stood there staring at the humidifier.
“I’m really sorry for visiting you, while you’re resting”
“No, it’s good. It’s actually safer not to see anyone face to face, but it’s probably for the best to let somebody else know that I’ve actually caught a cold.”
Didn’t she take a break due to an illness?
Ichinose was well aware that speculation about her absence was spreading.
She showed me her cell phone as if to prove something.
There was evidence that there were several exchanges with Horikita for many times.
That meant that Horikita, too, kept worrying.
We didn’t talk for a long time and decided to leave the room as soon as it was the right time for me.