When I returned to Class C, Haruka was asking Akito excitedly.
“Hey, how was it on Class B? It seems that a lot of things happened.”
“There was an unexpected development. Ichinose managed to repel Sakayanagi.”
Akito explained what happened with Class B.
The truth behind the rumors about Ichinose and the details about the ban that the school had placed on spreading rumors from that point, onwards.
“If you come in the afternoon class, you’ll hear the details from our teacher, directly”
“Shoplifting… It’s surprising to say the least, but I guess, I can accept that. If there’s something from the past that you do not want to be touched, it’s only natural that you would take some time off school, like she did.”
Haruka, informed of the situation now, fully well, defended Ichinose.
“Anyway, this is the end of the trouble. Let’s focus on the exam without being swayed by rumors.”
“That is great, Kiyopon”
“Well, it is.. I guess”
Just then, my phone rang.
“Who’s calling, who’s this?”
“It’s an unknown number”
I showed the number to Haruka and the others. It’s also different from the number which called me, the other day in the middle of the night.
I got up from my seat, took a distance from the group and answered the call.
“Is this Ayanokouji?”
I immediately understood to whom the voice belonged. It was Sakayanagi.
“How do you know my number… Ah, well, I guess, it’s not hard to find it”
“Yeah. Since there’s still about ten minutes until the lunch break ends. Could you come out to meet me for a moment?”
It would’ve been easy to decline, but it also would’ve been troublesome to make time to meet up with her later.
“Where would you want us to meet?”
I went out to the hallway while talking.
“OK, then. How about in front of the entrance on the ground floor?”
I hang up and headed towards the entrance.
I thought that may Kamuro or Hashimoto would come along with her, but only Sakayanagi was there when I arrived.
“Do not worry, there’s no one else with me right now. I must say, you’ve really outdone yourself this time, Ayanokoji-kun.”
“What are you talking about?”
“It seems as though you’ve gone and made your move behind the scenes, without me noticing. There are still a few mysteries that remain unsolved, but I’m not interested in talking about what happened back there. Just, why did you decide to protect Ichinose-san? That is the only thing that makes me curious”
By saying that Sakayanagi stared at me.
“Wait. I do not understand your story.”
“Because you saved Ichinose-san, she became bold… no, she was even able to stand back up on her own two feet again. I can’t imagine any other reason for what happened. Perhaps it’s possible that this wasn’t the first time she’s confessed to everything. Perhaps she already told everything to someone beforehand?”
“And you think that person, is me?”
It was no wonder that she reached that conclusion.
“You used Kamuro in order to force me make my move”
“I used Kamuro- san?”
“Yes, about, Ichinose’s past as a shoplifter. Before clarifying the story, she only told it to me.”
“She did that on her own accord.”
“No, that’s not the case”
“Why are you so sure?”
Apparently, she wanted to clarify what kind of information I was aware of.
“She presented me with a can of alcohol as proof of her shoplifting. But, she hadn’t stolen it that day. Kamuro had stolen it when she first enrolled here.”
“And how do you know that?”
“The best-before date. After I confirmed the best-before date of the beer can that Kamuro showed me, I went to the convenience store and checked the best-before date with the same brand of beer cans there. The best-before date of the cans on sale in the convenience store and the can she gave me differed by more than four months. It’s difficult to imagine that the can of beer she grabbed just happened to be four months older than the rest of them. Kamuro said that you had received the can of beer she had stolen in the past, telling her that you would dispose of it. If that’s true, she either gave me a can that the two of you had prepared for me ahead of time, or she got in touch with you after she left my room and got the can from you directly.”
At that point, I had already assumed that Kamuro would come to me and speak about Ichinose’s past.
“Why would I choose such a roundabout way?”
“Wouldn’t it, in order to lure me?”
“Hahaha. Perhaps an ‘as expected of Ayanokouji-kun’ would fit here”
“In this case, it would’ve been easy for me to sit back and do nothing. In fact, that’s what I intended to do in the beginning.”
It was none other than Sakayanagi that disturbed me and forced me to take action.
She had brought Ichinose down with her own hands, and then reached out and offered her a hand of support immediately after. Of course in a very indirect manner.
“Everything in order to get you involved, Ayanokouji-kun”
Sakanagi holding her stick, walked slowly and narrowed her distance to me.
“It didn’t mind if Ichinose-san was destroyed along the way, but if there was even a slight chance that you may decide to intervene, I was hoping that you would seize it. The odds were only about fifty-fifty, but… I got the ideal development in the end.”
So, Sakayanagi did not care about Ichinose’s existence at all.
“Compete with me, Ayanokouji-kun”
“What if I refuse?”
“You may say that it wouldn’t cause much damage, but, I will reveal that you are the mastermind behind Class C. You should be able to understand that if I did something like that, you wouldn’t be able to resolve like that case of a few rumors.”
Even if the school had banned the spreading of rumors, Sakayanagi would continue to spread rumors without hesitation.
“How about it? You are still not going to accept it?”
“On what we could compete. You’re in Class A, I’m in Class C. The difference is obvious.”
“We don’t know anything about what the next exam may be about, but how about we compete over the rankings? If you win, I promise that I won’t say anything about your past from now on.”
While that condition wasn’t that bad, there was no guarantee that she would keep to her word. I didn’t have any intention of signing an agreement or doing a vocal recording my consent on the matter either.
“You don’t believe me, do you? But it doesn’t seem like you have any other choice but to trust what I’m saying. If you don’t, your past will be exposed under broad daylight. It would become difficult for you to live an ordinary life.”
“Do whatever you want. Just know that if that happens, it will be a never ending fight between you and me.”
“… Haha. That’s right, that’s exactly what I expected you to say, Ayanokouji”
Sakayanagi herself should know that I wouldn’t accept a match between us, easily.
That’s why, she did not reveal anything about my past so far.
“What would you say, if we bet on my withdrawal from this school? And as a guarantee, my father, the chairman of this school, may be used as a witness.”
Sakayanagi emitted an air of absolute confidence.
“Of course, even if you should lose to me, I wouldn’t require for you to drop out as well. I don’t intend to ask for anything special either. I would, however, announce to the school that you’re the mastermind behind Class C. If I don’t have you risk at least that much, you might just withdraw from the contest altogether.”
What should I do? She was expecting my response.
“If you agree with these conditions, then I accept”
“Thank you very much, Ayanokouji-kun. With this, at last, my boring school life comes to an end.”
With a happy smile, Sakayanagi, left.
I decided to make a call to the key figure behind this incident.
That wasn’t Horikita, nor Megumi, neither Horikita’s older brother.
“I was thinking it was just about time, you’d finally contact me. Good evening Ayanokouji-kun”