“What are you guys doing!”
Suzuka Sanjoji and Himiyama Misaki rush into the classroom.
“It’s this guy’s fault!”
Suzuka Sanjoji was heartbroken that her bad premonition had come true. Misaki Himiyama had also been growing more and more tired of this situation over the past few days.
Yesterday after school, there was a bit of a commotion. The reason was that students’ shoes had been drowned in the pond. At first, one student reported that his shoes had been hidden.
But it wasn’t just one student who reported it. The shoes of the entire class were missing. It was too big a scale to bully someone. The target was too broad.
So if it wasn’t bullying, what was it—-
The students, Suzuka Sanjoji, and Misaki Himiyama ran around the school to find out. However, they find it not inside the school. It was found in a pond in the courtyard.
Among the students who were searching around, there was no sign of Yukito Kokonoe. There was no doubt that it was Yukito Kokonoe who did it. It reminded her of what KYukito Kokonoe had told her. They were all enemies, that’s what he had said for sure.
Normally, she would have had to call him immediately. It was impossible not to report to his parents after all of this.
But even so, even if she was sure it was Yukito Kokonoe, Suzuka Sanjoji hesitated.
They had just accused him of a crime he did not commit and framed him as the culprit.
She had just told his mother of a crime he did not commit and advised her to tell him about it.
No matter how sure they were, no matter how obvious it was that Yukito Kokonoe was the culprit, they, who had caused the false accusation, could not treat him as the culprit again without any proof. That is why she hesitated.
The next day, they postponed the meeting to hear the story first from Yukito Kokonoe.
Despite this attempt to persuade the students, they were not convinced. Once again, she had made a mistake in her handling of the situation. This naive judgment led to the assault this time.
It was not a fight. It was a one-sided assault. He was crouched down weakly.
Suzuka Sanjoji and Misaki Himiyama could not believe what they were seeing, but what they were seeing was the truth.
“It wasn’t me! Stop it! You’re hurting me!”
Takayama and the others did not stop the assault even when they saw the teacher. No, they could not stop. It was way beyond the point where they could restrain themselves.
Ah, it’s fun. Why is it so much fun to hurt weak people? Punching, kicking, and bringing them to their knees is the most enjoyable thing ever.
It is the greatest entertainment in this space.
One could even call it an instinct as a human being. The bare animal nature.
No matter how mature human society becomes, it will never disappear.
Everyone always wants to make the other person fall down, beat him up, and bring him to his knees, if only there is an opportunity!
To resist such violence.
To stop such violence.
It was always–.
It was always violence that only surpassed it.
For a moment, Suzuka Sanjoji felt her gaze meet that of Yukito Kokonoe.
At that moment, as if nothing had happened, Yukito Kokonoe stood up and kicked Kousuke Takayama away. The impact of the kick scattered the desk and chair.
Misaki Himiyama does not understand. No, “?” was floating above the heads of everyone present.
The classroom that had been so noisy was instantly enveloped in silence.
Yukito Kokonoe grabbed him and bent Hashimoto’s fingers back as he was punching him.
Hashimoto, who had been grabbed and punched by Yukito, quickly let go of his hand.
“W-What are you doing!”
Kitagawa, unable to hide his agitation at the sudden outburst, comes at him, but even as he swings his punches, the lower half of his body is not following suit.
In the first place, Yukito Kokonoe was used to fighting. The boy, who was unlucky in some way, had his fair share of experiences of being involved in such things. It was nothing special, and he felt it was just a part of his everyday life. In order to face up to it, he does not miss his daily running and muscle training.
He never thought that he would be able to take on an opponent who would just rush at him with momentum, letting his exhilarated mood take over.
When he dispelled his unsteady foot, Kitagawa’s position was easily disrupted.
Dragging him down as it was, he kicked him away like a soccer ball.
Desks and chairs scattered again with a loud noise.
Takayama gets up with an expression of not knowing what just happened.
Yukito Kokonoe came at him with the euphoric feeling that he had just had.
When Takayama’s knee is kicked vertically, he falls to the ground. The knee slammed right into his face.
He screamed unbearably to be heard and collapsed. His nose was bleeding. He grabbed Takayama by the hair and pulled him up, then slammed him face-first into the wall.
No one could move. No one knew what was going on.
And it was the same for Takayama and the others.
I should have been the strong one. I should have been a hero. Trampling over them, bringing them to their knees, dominating the weak and overrunning them, that kind of overwhelming presence!
So why, why is it that I am the one being beaten now?
No matter how much he refused to understand, nothing would change, and the heat that should have been so aroused in him was rapidly receding. Once he became calm and the adrenaline stopped flowing, the only thing that awaited him was the reality of pain.
“Speaking of which, I don’t have my slippers, do you know where they are?”
“W-what are you talking about….”
The cold, horrifying words reached his ears.
It is strange. A moment ago, you were pleading so miserably, so ineptly!
And yet, with a nonchalant air, as if that had never happened, the man slammed his face into the wall again.
There is a dull crunching sound.
“You didn’t stop me when I said that, did you? And my slippers were stolen by the thief, right?”
He slammed him again.
“Hey, Takayama. Do you know where they are?”
Again he smacked him.
The lechery in Takayama’s eyes had faded away. Now, the fear in his eyes is frightened.
The reality of the unknown fear and pain has painted over his exuberant mood and caused it to shrivel up.
That’s all he says.
Kousuke Takayama ran out of the classroom crying and moaning.
He turned his face to his classmates, who had just been shouting at him.
And then, he walked toward them, determinedly. Everyone wanted to escape. And yet, their legs were shaking and they couldn’t move. The world had changed in an instant, and their perception could not catch up with it.
“Beat the hell out of him, right? If that’s the case, I can hit you too, right?”
“Eh ……, ah, no…….”
He grabs Akari Kazahaya by the chest.
She was frozen in fear and couldn’t speak. She was horrified to see the guy who had soaked her shoes being beaten. She wanted more.
That’s why I was cheering. I did nothing wrong.
It should be that way, but why, why is this happening?
As if she had been freed from her bondage, Susuka Sanjoji came to herself and shouted,
“You can’t hit a girl!”
“We live in a world of gender equality now.”
“T-That’s not what I meant!”
She rushed to approach Yukito Kokonoe to restrain him. He was holding on to her chest with frightening force. She tried to pull it away, but it didn’t bother him at all.
“She is equally guilty. One way or another, I was being beaten up. And she was encouraging it. Don’t you know? That’s violence, too. You saw that, right?”
It was here that Suzuka Sanjoji finally realized. It was too late to come to that thought. The assault by Takayama and the others had begun before they came to the classroom. And it continued after they arrived. This boy had gone to great lengths to show it to them.
To justify his actions, even though he could have bounced back from the beginning.
And he was not wrong in anything he said.
Aiding and abetting. No one was going to help him anyway. Which could only mean that, to him, they were all equally guilty.
“What they did to me was also verbal abuse.”
There was no room for argument. He was right. Everything that had caused this situation was her own fault. She didn’t listen to anything he had to say.
“Now I’m going to beat the s**t out of all these guys.”
“HII, ……! I didn’t do anything!”
“I had nothing to do with it! They did it on their own—–“
Evasion of responsibility, self-preservation. The atmosphere is abuzz. That’s what anyone would do if they heard such words. He did it right in front of them. He would do it without any reason.
“No! No more violence!”
“Then what will you do? My textbooks and the bag my mother made for me are in tatters. Isn’t this violence?”
“Why did they do such a terrible, terrible thing ……”
Misaki Himiyama was holding the tattered cloth bag in her trembling hands. Her eyes could not look away as if she were being told that this was her sin.
“Please contact the parents of all these people. You can do that, right? I called my mother, even though I didn’t do anything. But everything they did was true.”
In any case, it was impossible to conceal the fact. She had no choice but to contact the parents of the Takayama family. But the boy in front of him had no intention of letting it go that far.
What he was saying was that he wanted all the parents to be informed of their foolishness and to come and apologize to him.
“W-wait! Please, just give me a minute! I won’t pretend it didn’t happen. This time, tell me your story properly—-!”
Confused, dismayed, bewildered, and perplexed. Unable to think of anything, not knowing where to begin.
The only thing she can do now is to pile on the words in a desperate attempt to somehow contain the situation.
“—-What’s all the fuss!”
What interrupted Sanjoji’s train of thought was the vice principal, Toyama.
“Sanjoji-sensei, what’s this all about?”
“No, this is …….”
The vice principal, Toyama, asked Susuka Sanjoji. But Susuka Sanjoji was at a loss for words, not knowing how to reply.
Why is the vice principal here? She thought so, but if she was making so much noise, the other classes would have heard her, and the vice principal might have happened to pass by and noticed it. In any case, it was bad luck. She would have to wait until the situation had calmed down a bit before she could give an explanation.
“Oh, I’ve been waiting for you, vice principal.”
“You are ……. You’re the one who caused all this trouble?”
But for some reason, it was Yukito Koknoe who spoke to the vice principal, Toyama, in a friendly manner. Both Suzuka Sanjoji and Himiyama Misaki intuitively realize that this is a bad idea. If this boy does anything, it can only go horribly wrong.
“No, I didn’t. It was a one-sided beating.”
“What did you say? Explain yourself from the beginning.”
The boy may be calm, but the fact that he was beaten so much has left him in a bad way. Even the casual observer could tell that it was not a lie. The eyes of Toyama became stern, but as if that didn’t matter, Yukito Koknoe continued.
“But, vice principal, can I ask you to repeat what you told me yesterday?”
“What are you talking about? Tell me what happened.”
“It will all become clear when the vice principal tells us. Please. Let me hear it again.”
“What’s that ……”
The poison was drained out from him as he saw Yukito bow his head obediently.
“Haa. …….Okay, then what do you want to ask?”
Somehow, Susuka Sanjoji was beginning to understand what was about to begin.
In front of the podium, Yukito Kokonoe continued to ask questions to the vice principal, Toyama.
“Vice principal passed through the corridor of this classroom after school three days ago, right?”
“That’s right. I needed to check the equipment in the storage room down the hall.”
“What time was that?”
“I believe it was after 4 pm….”
“Was there anyone in this class at that time?”
“Yes, there was only one student left. I remember because I told him to go home and be careful not to have any accidents.”
The one who spoke up was Misaki Himiyama.
The day’s classes ended before 15:00. It was rare for a student to remain in the classroom until around 4 pm
“Who is that student?”
“Hmm? Well, …… ah. It’s him.”
The vice principal, Toyama, looked around the class and pointed to him.
That student the vice principal pointed to, Kazuhiro Okamoto , looked down and was trembling.
“Thank you, vice principal. My last question. Where was he at the time?”
“Hmm? He was sitting right there, getting ready to leave”
“That settles it all. As expected of the vice principal. You are handsome, kind, and admirable. Yo, Kagami, you are a true teacher! I respect you.”
“I-I appreciate you saying so, but what the hell do you expect to learn from a question like this ……?”
Yukito Kokonoe approached Kazuhiro Okamoto and punched him in the face.
With a loud thud, Kazuhiro Okamoto was blown away.
“Wha! What are you doing! Stop it!
Toyama rushed to stop him, but Yukito Kokonoe dragged Kazuhiro Okamoto up and threw him down to the podium.
“Vice principal, that seat right there where Okamoto was getting ready to leave. It’s my seat.”
“Okamoto, you. What were you doing in my seat?”
At this moment, Suzuka Sanjoji and Misaki Himiyama are just bystanders. The same is true for the audience of a play.
It is as if, yes, they are being shown off like spectators in a play. This means that what he is doing, in other words, is absolution.
“I didn’t do anything! I just happened to be sitting there–“
“You were getting ready to leave? What were you getting out of my desk? No, what were you going to put in there? You stole that woman’s compact, didn’t you?”
“N-no! I was—“
“You stole her compact!”
“No, I didn’t! I was going to give it back to her afterwards—!”
Even the frightened blackmail may be an act, or it may be an expressionless face like a Noh mask that doesn’t even twitch.
A quiet classroom. His confession confessed his guilt more eloquently than anything else.
“Enough already! What is going on!”
Toyama, numb to the situation, raised his voice.
Yukito Kokonoe looked around and said.
It’s easy. In other words, these guys worked together to frame me as the culprit. That’s what I’m saying.
The words “these guys” used by Yukito Kokonoe made Suzuka Sanjoji and Himiyama Misaki feel like they were included.
“Unexpected.” For Okamoto Kazuhiro, that was all he could say. Frightened by the escalating situation, Okamoto was unable to even confess that he was the culprit and could only watch from the sidelines.
But that was, after all, only a crime.
“What a mess ……”
Toyama looks pained. Yukito Kokonoe told everything from the very beginning.
And neither Suzuka Sanjoji nor Misaki Himiyama could lie in such an occasion.
Meanwhile, Takayama, who had cried his eyes out, returned with Yukito Kokonoe’s shoes, but Yukito Kokonoe struck him again on the spot, causing another agonizing incident, and the three who had been hit were moved to the infirmary for now.
“Fortunately, the vice principal was there to witness the incident and saved the day, but I was planning to consult a lawyer.”
“I never touched the compact. So the compact must have the criminal’s fingerprints on it.”
“If that happened, ……”
The fact that the word “lawyer” came out of a child’s mouth is unsettling.
If that had happened, the uproar would have spread outside the campus and expanded dramatically.
But it wasn’t Yukito Kokonoe who came up with the wisdom to do so. He had asked his mother’s sister, Sekka Kokonoe, for advice on how to find the culprit.
Sekka Kokonoe also merely mentioned it in passing as a means to an end, and did not instruct him to say it. It was just that Yukito Kokonoe took it to heart and said it.
“I understand the situation. Sanjoji-sensei, how did things get so complicated? You could have done better, couldn’t you?”
“I understand. I know that, but ……”
That was exactly what Suzuka Sanjoji had asked herself over and over again. There had to be a time to turn back again and again before things got to this point.
And annoyingly, Yukito Kokonoe was the one who had given her that chance.
He had reached out to her many times before reaching this point today. To themselves, to their classmates. It was a reprieve. Until lunchtime, he said. But no one wanted to help him. He gave proof that he was not the culprit. But no one believed him.
The worst result of all. It was their fault for pushing his hand away.
It was a mistake for which there was no excuse. She couldn’t imagine how much it had hurt him, how much it had angered him.
“But you shouldn’t hit people. You know that, right?”
“Of course I do.”
There was something that really bothered Suzuka Sanjoji.
“You didn’t have to go that far with Takayama and the others, no?”
“What are you even saying? Oh, I am sorry. I misspoke.”
“Look. I was being one-sidedly beaten. I was just desperate to fight back. I couldn’t spare the time to go easy on him.”
Everyone thought so. But there was no way they could accuse him of lying.
After all, it was Takayama and the others who made the first move, and they were looking at the one-sided beating of Yukito Kokonoe. Unless he admits that he lied, it will never be reversed.
The condemnation continues solemnly.
Yukito Kokonoe turns his gaze toward them. What dark eyes. His eyes are so cloudy that they do not reflect any emotion.
Suddenly, a memory comes back to me. I remember that he has not called me “Sensei” even once today. Not once. I remember what he said yesterday.
I see, he. In his mind, we are no longer teachers—
“You told me a thousand times that I should apologize if I did something wrong. But no one has apologized. Not you, not Takayama and the others, not this sh*tty classroom, not that thief over there.”
Misaki Himiyama looks up.
In other words, they too are confronted with the fact that they have not done any of the things that they have been saying to Yukito Koknoe and the others.
“It’s you who are liars”.
From then on, the days of hell continued for Suzuka Sanjoji and Misaki Himiyama-san. It took several days just to get the situation under control. Days spent apologizing to the parents. The parents, who were furious that their own child had come home beaten, had no choice but to lower their raised fists when they heard what their own child had done. They only had themselves to blame.
Above all, the atmosphere in the class was terrible.
Takayama and the others were scared to death, and they looked like different people. All they could do was to watch the expression on Yukito Kokonoe’s face. They had to pay for all the textbooks that had been scribbled on. Takayama and the others were the ones who had slashed the cloth bag with a knife, but Yukito Kokonoe had no mercy and hit them again.
“It’s terrible of him to treat Kokonoe-kun like a criminal!”
“Don’t talk to me, you’re annoying.”
Akari Kazahaya tried to flatter him, but it was too late for her. Okamoto, the source of all this, was becoming more and more isolated and out of place, but no one could do anything about it, not even his homeroom teacher, Suzuka Sanjoji. After all the commotion, the other classes knew about it, and it was difficult to even move from one class to another. And Okamoto, who could no longer tolerate the environment, would be transferred to a different school at a later date.
Misaki Himiyama was at her limit. It was too much for a single intern.
Still, her pride and joy told her that she could not go on like this. She knew that she could not allow things to end like this, so she desperately endured the little time she had left.
How could she be forgiven? How could she get her message across? Even if she could escape from this situation, Suzuka Sanjoji would not be able to escape from it. She would have to continue as a homeroom teacher in a broken class. That is also a concern.
Now the relationship with Suzuka Sanjoji is more than just that of senior and junior. A strange friendship has developed. Or perhaps they are accomplices in the same crime. They kept in close touch and talked about many things.
Why did I want to become a teacher?
What did I want to do with my time as a teacher?
I love children.
I believed it was my calling.
I never wanted to step on anyone’s toes.
I never wanted to hurt anyone.
And yet, the reality was so heartless.
I was too stupid.
The only way she could support herself was to believe that improving her relationship with him, even if only a little, was the last thing she could do.
“Today is the last time that Misaki-sensei will be with us. Let’s have a round of applause.”
Crackling and coarse applause echoes. There is no sense of fulfillment, no sense of accomplishment, no sense of being spared. Of course. All I did was bring discord and disintegration to this class. I wish I had never come here. It’s probably better that they don’t say so to my face.
Greeting the students. I look at him and see indifference.
I don’t think he is listening to me at all. But it couldn’t end like this. There was no way it could end.
So Misaki Himiyama went to him.
And she bowed deeply.
“I am truly sorry. I should have believed you. I should have listened to you. I know it is unforgivable to apologize now. Still, please let me apologize. I have put your parents through a lot of trouble.”
Whether he understood or not, she could not read anything from his expression.
“These are my feelings. I want you to read them when you get home.”
She handed him the letter. It was the one Misaki Himiyama had written yesterday after staying up all night.
She rewrote it over and over again. It was important to apologize in words, but she wanted to leave something tangible. Despite the fact that this had happened, Misaki wanted to believe that everything she had done up to that point had meaning.
The letter was filled with all of her feelings.
It was a sin that Misaki Himiyama was willing to atone for, but at the same time, it might have been an indulgence that she wanted to be forgiven for.
Yukito Kokonoe ignores her and heads straight for the classroom exit, carrying his school bag.
“Well then, goodbye.”
Thus, Misaki Himiyama’s heart was broken and she gave up her career as a teacher.