In the meantime a few days passed.
During that time Ichinose who was in a whirlwind of rumors continued to be absent from school due to her need of resting.
However, on the 24th of February, one day before the end of the school year exam, something changed.
At last Ichinose came to school. I did not see her directly, but since we hadn’t seen her in school for more than a week, her presence attracted attention. The information spread out quickly.
That being said, her appearance was important for Class B, as for Class C, the test that was coming the day after was far more important.
“Alright. Ayanokouji, Akito, Haruka, Airi. You all did excellent.”
During lunch break we all gathered around Keisei’s desk.
We were about to hear the results of a mock test that Keisei had prepared for us.
It was made for testing our abilities and we took it voluntary the night before.
“Whoaa! Kyopon, you got a 90!! That’s awesome!”
While eating her sandwich Haruka said, surprised.
“Well the test that Keisei made was flawless. Didn’t you get a similar result?”
While all three had slightly different scores, all they were around an 80.
“If you did good in the preparation test and in my mock test, then, you will have no problem with the exam test, tomorrow”
“If Keisei says so, then it will be easy peasy”
Akito stretched his stiff shoulders, maybe because he was pretty enthusiastic.
“Thank you very much Keisei-kun. I feel anxious every time I take a test…”
“Nah, don’t mention it. This is the least that I could you for all of you.”
Feeling a little embarrassed from these words Keisei scratched his nose lightly.
“But should we really not do anything else, today?”
“We’ve spent a lot of time studying during the past week. I want you to take a break for the last day before the exam. You have all studied diligently up to this point and I do not think that it will go to waste. It is far too dangerous if you are tired and get sick or get drowsy during the exam because of it. If you drop your score because of these silly mistakes our preparation will go to waste.”
“Ok, then. I’ll follow your instructions, Yukimu”
As Haruka responded to Keisei with a weird salute, the others nodded along, agreeing with her words.
When, suddenly, a loud noise resounded throughout the classroom as the door was violently flung open from the other side.
“Oh!! My!! Listen, everyone!”
Just as we were to finish our lunch in peace.
“Ugh! It’s the worst!”
Haruka had dropped her sandwich onto the floor, startled by the sudden noise. She spoke up.
“Hey! What is going on, with you?”
Haruka, who seemed overwhelmed by all this, glared at Ike.
“Harassment!! It’s harassment!! Students from A Class marched towards Class B just, now!”
Such a story bursted.
“Since Ichinose-san returned to school, Sakayanagi made her move”
Horikita who also was having her lunch in the classroom got up in a hurry. Without speaking to anyone, she rushed out of the classroom. By seeing her, Sato and Hirata and a few others followed after her.
Tomorrow the end of the year exam would take place.
There was no other choice but to make her move that day.
To make a direct attack in order to bring down Ichinose after she had returned to school.
“What are you planning to do, Akito…”
“I have to go. If something happens like the other day, there must be someone, there to stop it”
“Well, you’re right”
“However, Haruka and Airi. You two, should stay right here. There’s no need for more people to involve than necessary”
“Yes, yes. We understand. We are going to eat our lunch at our own leisure”
“What are you going to do, Kiyotaka-kun?”
Along with Akito, Keisei also rose to his feet. So, it was hard for me to say that I’d rather remain, there, too.
“I’ll come with you. Even though I don’t think that I can be of any use.”
One by one, we left the classroom and headed towards Class B. There was a lot of trouble happening in the hallway already as a lot of people were gathering.
“What did you come to do here, Sakayanagi?”
The moment we entered Class B, Shibata was rushing towards Sakayanagi.
“Why I came here you ask? Well, I came here to save everyone in Class B, if you want to know.”
Sakayanagi was accompanied by Kamuro and Hashimoto. Still, there was no sign of Kito. It seemed that they decided to move with a small group of people, as by moving in large groups can cause more problems.
“What do you mean Sakayanagi-san?”
Ichinose, who had been surrounded by several students in the back of the classroom, spoke.
“Wait, Ichinose. You don’t have to get involved with this.”
“Yeah. You don’t have to, Honami-chan”
Her classmates surrounded Ichinose tightly as if to prevent Sakayanagi have any contact with her.
“First of all, congratulations on your recovery. To be honest, I wanted to talk to you earlier, but I was busy studying for the exam. Still, I am happy for you. You just made it in time for tomorrow’s end of the year examination.”
“Yes. Thank you”
The two of them spoke to each other from a distance.
You could easily understand that the whole Class B was hostile towards Sakayanagi.
Nobody was missing even though it was lunch time. Perhaps the whole class decided to unite to defend Ichinose.
However, Sakayanagi appeared to be totally unmoved by this unity. On the contrary, she seemed to enjoy such an atmosphere.
She also had foreseen that Ichinose, who was in a whirlpool of rumors, would not use the cafeteria during the lunch break.
“You said, you came here to ‘save us’ ”
Sakayanagi, smiled at Kanzaki’s question.
“Does that mean that you admit to having spread those rumors?”
Kanzaki continued, showing that if she had come to apologize, he could not understand it.
“I am not the one who spread the rumors”
“If that is the case, from what have you come to ‘save’ us?”
“I guess you remember a spreading rumor that Ichinose-san had a lot of points in the past, right?. However, it was immediately calmed down because there was no proof of cheating at that time.”
“What do you mean?’
In order not to let Sakayanagi say anything further, Kanzaki spoke without a moment’s delay.
“This may be nothing but my own imagination, but… There are very few methods available for someone to keep such a large amount of points without cheating. For example, one could collect private points from all of their classmates, gathering them together under a single person. In short, they would be playing the role of a bank, and I’ve determined that Ichinose-san is carrying this very responsibility for Class B.”
“That is something I cannot answer”
That part was related to the strategy of Class B. So, naturally he refused to answer.
“Yes, I’m not asking for an answer.However, if Ichinose-san had played the role of the bank as I have a reason to believe… that would be very dangerous.”
By saying that she glanced at Ichinose who was sitting in the distance looking back at her.
Ichinose did not answer, she just kept staring back at her.
“Is what I am saying wrong? Ichinose Honami-san?”
That was cruel of you Sakayanagi. You certainly cornered Sakayanagi.
Ichinose was finally in a difficult position, her only remaining weapon was silence as she was driven to the edge.
With just one push she would be knocked out of the cliff.
That was the situation that was created for her.
However, that plan was not going to work.
“Could you open the way for me, please, Chihiro-san, Mako-san”
“I’m alright. Do not worry about me, I’m ok.”
Having said that, Ichinose smiled gently and walked slowly. Closed the distance with Sayanagi. However, Ichinose finally turned to face her classmates in the classroom, instead of Sakayanagi.
“… I’m sorry, everyone!”
When Ichinose stood in front of the teacher’s podium, she bowed to all B Class students.
“Why are you apologizing for, Ichinose? There is nothing to apologize for, right?”
An upset Shibata tried to interrupt Ichinose.
“Don’t try to stop her, Shibata-kun. She is trying to confess.”
Sakayanagi laughed happily.
“For the past year… There’s something that I have been hiding.”
“Wait, Ichinose. You don’t have to say anything else, here”
Kanzaki felt uneasy and tried to stop it, but Ichinose would not stop.
“There have been strange rumors about me the last few weeks. Among them, there is only one thing that it’s not a lie. Something that was written in the letter… That I was a criminal”
The words were drawn out, and Sakanagi smiled with satisfaction.
“Is that true?”
As her words sunk in, the whole class fell silent.
“It seems that these classmates of yours, who so foolishly think highly of you have been caught unaware, so please, do give them all the details, Ichinose-san. What kind of crime did you commit?”
Ichinose tried to continue, she gulped.
“I have kept it, in silence from all of you… But now I will confess”
And by saying that, Ichinose spoke of the past, she had kept sealed within.
“The crime that I have been hiding is that I… used to be a shoplifter.”
The shoplifter honor student, Ichinose Honami.
That revelation surprised not only B Class, but also the rest of the audience such as Akito and Keisei.
After all she did not seem like a student that could do such a thing.
“Yes, I am sorry, Mako-chan”
While apologizing, Ichinose began to tell the story.
“I grew up in a fatherless family, I was living with my mother and my sister, two years younger than me, the three of us together. While we weren’t rich, we never felt unhappy. It was hard for my mother who was working full-time while raising her two children all by herself. So, since I was an elementary school student, I was planning to go to work after graduating from junior high school. After all, it takes a lot of money to go to high school. I wanted to get a job and help my mother with backing up my younger sister. However, my mother was opposed to that. I believe that she was wishing for the happiness of both of her daughters, just like I was wishing for the happiness of my younger sister.”
Ichinose opened up about her past.
“I found out that, even if I did not have the money, if I studied hard, I could use the student scholarship system. So, I studied hard. I developed my abilities while I managed to reach the top of the school. But… just like that, during the summer of my third year of middle school… my mother pushed herself too hard and collapsed.”
In order to support her family, Ichinose’s mother had overworked herself.
She damaged her body in order to raise her children.
“My sister’s birthday was near. She had never asked for a gift from neither of us. She was still a freshman in junior high school. It would’ve been acceptable for her to act a little spoiled sometimes, yet she always managed to hold herself back. Instead of getting clothes she wanted, or accompanying her friends as they played or went shopping together, she just put up with all of it and held herself back from asking for anything. And then, that selfless little sister of mine… expressed that she wanted something for the very first time. A fashionable hair clip that her favorite celebrity wore back then. My mother undoubtedly overloaded her schedule in order to buy my sister that hair clip.”
However, due to her sudden hospitalisation, she did not have the chance to give to her the birthday present.
“I still remember my mother, apologizing while crying in her hospital bed and my sister’s face screaming about the hair clip she was so looking forward to. But even then, I could not blame my sister. It was the only present she was ever asked for…”
Sakayanagi was listening to her confession with an unwavering smile.