It would be difficult to carry out that plan without Kushida.
While it would be easy to make up a bunch of lies, it would not be enough by itself to shake people’s hearts.
It’s because the truth is intertwined in countless ways, so people get impatient with their surroundings.
And that anxiety becomes the kind of fire that spreads quickly.
“So, what are your conditions?”
Of course the negotiations would fail if she offered conditions that could not be met.
“Horikita Suzune’s expulsion from school”
Kushida’s greatest desire.
She knew that there’s no way that it would happen, but she expressed her wish anyway.
“How about you, Ayanokouji-kun? Dropping out of school.”
“That would be even more unacceptable than Horikita leaving the school.”
Kushida laughed, finding my response just a little bit amusing.
“But there’s nothing else that I want”
“If so, can I suggest, something?”
I decided to offer some options of reward.
“Alright. What is it?”
“All the private points that I get to acquire from now on, I will give you the half of them.”
“What’s up with that? That’s the same deal that Ryuuen made or something…”
Of course Kushida new the detail of the agreement that Ryuuen had made with Class A.
“Yes, you can think of it as the same agreement. Of course I will show you the history of deposits and withdrawals every month so that you can be sure that I am not scamming you. This means that you, Kushida, by the time you graduate, you will have hundreds of thousands to a few millions of private points. The price is excellent for a little bit of information that you will give me.”
There was a moment of silence. Kushida was thinking about my offer.
“It’s not a bad offer at all. But, unfortunately, I’m currently not in need of more private points. It can never hurt to have more money, though, but I already have plenty.”
Kushida had obtained a very large sum of points during the special exam on the cruise ship.
Even if she had used her private excessively, she would still have more than enough left even, now.
But the most efficient and easiest way to negotiate is with money, after all.
“Even if you have enough to use at your own leisure, there’s nothing wrong with holding onto more points in case of an emergency. I believe Miss Chabashira said it as well. That owning private points is important when it comes to protecting yourself.”
If you think of them as your own insurance, it would be better to hold onto each and every point you could.
“This proposal of yours. No matter how I look at it, you’re putting yourself at a disadvantage, Ayanokouji-kun. If this was an emergency where you were at risk of dropping out of school, I guess I could understand? But, it’s strange that you’re willing to sacrifice half of your own soul for the sake of saving Ichinose-san.”
“I like Ichinose”
“I don’t need jokes like this one”
I had thought that she would laugh, but Kushida didn’t show any signs of it.
“I am telling you the truth. It would certainly hurt to lose half of my private points. But, that’s exactly how I’ll be able to protect myself.”
“What do you mean?”
“I’m one of the people you want to drop out of school. I don’t know when I’ll be stabbed in the back. So, that’s my defense plan.”
“In other words, if you start to supply me with your private points, your existence, Ayanokouji, will become beneficial to me, is that what you’re getting at?”
“Yeah. Being your enemy is troublesome. I think it’s worth it giving you half.”
An agreement made by providing private points.
Private points that continue to be supplied unless you throw away the other person.
Not bad at all.
“… I see”
Kushida, who had been thinking for a while, came to a conclusion.
“Alright, I’m on board. The only condition is that, I don’t antagonize you, Ayanokouji-kun, is that all? Don’t you want to add some kind of guarantee for Horikita-san as well?”
“I’m not that greedy. It would be troublesome if I were to also ask for Horikita’s protection and the agreement were to break down.”
“These are very sweet conditions, right?”
“If you’re worried about making a verbal agreement, why don’t we write it down?”
“No, that’s not necessary.”
As soon as she said that. Kushida reached into her pocket… and took out a voice recorder.
Two recordings. She had been recording with not only her cell phone, but with a backup recorder as well.
“I have all the evidence I need, right here. If you betray me in any way.. you know what happens, right?”
In case I broke our agreement, she would bring this into the attention of the school authorities.
It would even be possible for her to exploit me without making it public.
“As expected, Ayanokōji-kun, you are completely different from Horikita-san.”
Give and take.
It is impossible for the other party to believe in you, based on their feelings alone.
Unlike emotions that are invisible, numbers can be seen and verified.
Horikita’s method was not bad at all.
Emotional relationships sometimes surpass numbers and contractual relationships. However, the hurdle for that is extremely high.
The very way of telling Kushida to endure her grudge was wrong.
“But I wonder if half is good?”
“I thought that if the amount was too small, it would not impress you”
Of course, continuously giving so many private points would become a heavy burden for me.
However, that certain aspect of the deal would be handled soon enough.
“We have finished this part of our agreement. Now, how about you tell me about what I want to hear?”
“Sure. What would you like to know?”
“Any bad or shameful story from the past is fine. Generally speaking, anything that it would cause a nuisance if it would be made public.”
“Well… Then, I’ll teach you properly”
Amused by the situation, Kushida began to share the secrets she was holding.
Who likes whom, who hates whom. Starting with that, she continued with the students’ lives. Their family circumstances and cases of delinquency.
Kushida was talking lively. Even at this point, she had not realised my true aim.
Answering Sakayanagi’s provocation.
Diverting Hashimoto’s attention away from me.
The thread of Nagumo.
All of these incidents, were just a portion of the bigger picture.
I wanted to know just one thing from this case.
The quantity and quality of the information that Kushida Kikyo had accumulated. All for the sake of removing her out of school.
Although her removal was easier said than done, If I made a mistake, it would be troublesome.
I had to guess the power of the bomb that she was holding.
The overwhelming information network of Kushida.
Then, check the information carefully.
From whom she had heard the rumors, what kind, and how many people knew about them.
She had a terrifying understanding of the character and personalities of the students around her. It could be that, at least among the first-year students, there was nobody in the school who could approach Kushida’s mastery of acquiring information.
Kushida’s outstanding ability had been cultivated to protect herself and to recognize herself as a sublime personality.
“Was that useful?”
Of course, the information she just told me about was not everything Kushida could know.
“For Class C it’s Hodou and Satou. I want to spread information about these two.”
“I guess this is good. Satou-san’s dislike of Onodera is well-known, already.”
It was only a matter of time before this would reach Onodera’s ears.
“I also have a bad personality, but it’d be good for you to remember that’s just how girls are.”
Kushida took out her mobile phone and opened a chat application. The number of her friends could not even be compared with me. The number of group chat she was involved in was enormous.
“For example, there’s this group chat, we’ll call it group A, which was made by some of the girls from our class. There are six people in it, right? But, as a matter of fact, there’s a second group chat, made by the same girls. Let’s call that one group B. Just so you know, there’s one person who wasn’t included in that second group, a girl named Nene.”
Mori Nene, one of the members of Kei’s group.
“Are you saying that Mori isn’t liked that much?”
“Exactly. If group A contains the feelings they show up front, group B contains the true feelings they’re hiding underneath. Sometimes, they’ll come together just to talk bad about Nene. I, of course, never take part in something so careless. There may be a smiling, close relationship on the surface, but deep down, everybody has someone they hate. It’s totally normal for girls to come together just to badmouth somebody. Anyway, when it comes to two-faced groups like this, there aren’t just one or two of them. As far as I know, there are lots.”
Kushida stood up, being satisfied with what she couldn’t usually speak.
“It’s late, I’m going home. I am looking forward to the materialisation of our contract, Ayanokouji-kun.”
Kushida turned her back to me and began to put her shoes on by the front door.
“Thanks for your help, today”
“No, don’t mention it. Well, then good night, Ayanokouji-kun. From now on treat me good, as well.”
This was my chance to hear about Kushida’s proximity to Nagumo. But I dared not mentioning it.
The fact that Nagumo and Kushida had come into contact with each other was something I had learned by accident. There was no reason for me to use it, just yet.
After that, I started preparing to run the “rumors” of each class based on Kushida’s information.