Translated and Edited by: ynlucca.
-san: A polite suffix, but not excessively formal.
-kun: A common suffix among friends and younger people.
-chan: A common suffix among people you’re close with, mostly used for feminine nicknames and girls, since it’s cutesy and childlike.
-senpai: A common suffix and noun used to address or refer to one’s older or more senior colleagues in a school, workplace, dojo, or sports club.
“Sorry for being late, Saki-chan.”
“No, no, thank you for coming.”
While the two girls exchanged pleasantries, Matsuyama stood perplexed.
Ayaka Midou was the student council president of this prestigious school. Her chestnut-brown hair reached just above her shoulders, and her big eyes shone brightly. If Saki was to be considered a silent, cool beauty, Ayaka would be the cute and bubbly type. Not only that, but her equal treatment of everyone was enough to garner quite a big popularity.
Why is the president here? I asked in my mind, only for her to come forward, an ever-present smile on her face.
“Well, well, looks like you’re up to something quite interesting, aren’t you, Yuya-kun?”
“Yuya…?” That’s what she called Matsuyama. Suddenly, a wave of unease pierced my mind as her eyes wandered to me. I was taken aback by her smile, until—
Whoa, what’s with the menacing aura beside me?!
Shooting a sidelong glance, Saki bore a glare right through me. Unaware of such things, however, the council president continued to explain what this was all about.
“Yuya-kun and I have been good friends for a long time due to our parents’ relationship.”
“That’s right, Iwaki-kun, the troublemaker.”
“Huh? What’s up with the nickname?” I pointed to myself.
“You’re the man of the hour, you know? In fact, it’s harder to find someone who doesn’t know you at this school.”
“S-Sure…” I gave a vague response, unsure of what to say to that.
Then, Matsuyama finally interjected our conversation. “Big sis Ayaka, please stop calling me that. And what did you come here for?”
Following his interruption, the president shifted her gaze from me to him, then replied, “It’s obvious, isn’t it? You’re gambling with Saki-chan and the others, so I’m here as a referee.”
He chuckled in response. “Is the student council president so free as to spend time on such trivial matters?”
“No, no, it’s not like that. Saki-chan pleaded with me. When a junior asks you like that, as a senior, you can’t help but lend a hand.”
So they were in cahoots…
I looked at Saki next to me and felt a sense of dread. It’s terrifying how foolproof her plans always seem to be.
“Unfortunately, big sis, you’re not needed here.”
“We didn’t make such a promise in the first place, right? So, sorry to have you come, but could you leave?”
Her smile felt like the surface of the Mariana trench, you couldn’t see what lay below. Then, she threw a crumpled notebook she’d been holding in her hands toward Matsuyama.
As soon as he opened it, he jumped. His face losing color by the moment. “What?!”
“I’m sure you can understand it just by reading. It’s written there that the whole class has been bullying Iwaki-kun. And it seems Saki-chan worked hard to keep tabs on everything. But my, you all have done some terrible, terrible things.”
It turned out Saki had been keeping a record of my bullying. I felt grateful that she had taken action for my sake. On the other hand, my classmates were now being targeted by the student council president and were almost corpses due to how white they were. Still wearing her smile, the student council president kept intimidating Matsuyama.
“Should I give this to your father? Or perhaps the police?”
“Damn it! This piece of…”
“Oh, but tearing it up would be futile, you know? Saki-chan has backed it up on her computer. Right?”
“I do,” Saki replied in full.
Though the president had been wearing a smile ever since she walked in, I felt a bit frightened, even though I wasn’t one of her targets.
She’s definitely not an ordinary person…
“Now, now, if you don’t want to be exposed, do you know what you should do?”
“Ideally, everyone should take responsibility, but this time, I’ll spare you with just Yuya’s apology. Is that alright with you two, Saki-chan, Iwaki-kun?”
Both Saki and I nodded. Not a single breath echoed through these barren walls, and my classmates all froze up like broken computers. Never had they expected to become targets.
But then, from the silence—
“It’s all Matsuyama’s fault…” Someone muttered quietly.
“Wha…?” Matsuyama let out that dumbfounded noise at the betrayal. However, that single string of words served as the trigger for a torrent more.
“Matsuyama, just get on your knees already!”
“Yeah, that’s right! We never wanted to bully Iwaki-kun!”
“Me neither! It’s all Matsuyama’s doing. Believe me!”
“That’s right! Iwaki-kun, I was just following his words! Trust me!”
The classmates who’ve always fawned over him suddenly turned their backs. Some even started groveling to me in sheer desperation.
Irredeemable… — That was my honest impression of them all.
“Well, well, it’s nice to see you all acting like humans!”
Even in such a situation, the student council president didn’t break her smile. Saki seemed exasperated, but I think she’s quite similar to her in that aspect.
“But you’re all too noisy,” The student council president’s smile suddenly vanished. “Silence.”
It was a mere word, and it wasn’t loud. However still, it rang clearly in everyone’s ears. The clamor from a moment ago disappeared as if it didn’t even happen, and was replaced by dead silence. Then, she turned back to Matsuyama with her usual smile.
“Now, Yuya-kun, go ahead.”
“I mean, get down on your knees. Down. After all, I’ve prepared one hell of a stage for you. Be grateful, m’kay?”
Matsuyama ended up forcing a wry smile and was unable to express any gratitude. The gazes of the entire class were focused on him like lasers, urging him to kneel. Under that pressure, he began sweating bullets.
“Hey, big sis, could we stop this ridiculousness? I’ll sincerely apologize to Iwaki. Right?” He turned to me with that fake smile.
“Huh? Me?” I was surprised to be brought into the fray.
“Let’s get along from now on, okay? Yeah?”
“Huh? No thanks,” my quick response was enough to make a vein bulge on his forehead. Both Saki and the president covered their mouths to suppress their laughter. They didn’t succeed.
Once the duo calmed down their laughter, the president sighed. “Sigh. How pathetic. To think you’re my childhood friend…”
She theatricalized that reaction, only for her smile to deepen further. It frightened not only me but everyone present.
“Just kneel down already, you pathetic wimp. You lost the bet, so don’t chirp around.”
Matsuyama froze. The whole class did. They probably never expected such vulgar words to come from the student council president.
She’s dangerous… Actually, she might have a vocabulary as foul as Saki’s. My thoughts were pretty much unrelated to the situation.
Then, the president returned to her usual smile and looked around.
“If you won’t do it, shall I report you all to the police? Are you fine with that?” She vocalized to the whole classroom.
“—!” And everyone was taken aback.
Matsuyama’s classmates, who definitely didn’t want to be subjected to such treatment themselves, started pressuring him instead.
“Kneel down already!”
“You’re the one to blame, so just do it!”
Their demands came one after another and didn’t stop.
It was like the end of an absolute monarchy. Matsuyama was king about to be guillotined, and the fate of a king who lost the support of the people sure was cruel. He looked at me with a red face, unwilling to lower his head out of pride.
“Are you mocking me?” Saki snapped.
She gave a half-assed apology devoid of any sincerity. Saki’s anger manifested quicker than my own, and she displayed her frustration as such. Yielding to the jeers from the surrounding classmates, Matsuyama finally lowered his head.
“Iwaki, I’m… I’m s… sorry…”
“Sigh. Does your brain lack nourishment? How many times do I have to tell you to kneel down?”
Saki’s anger was fanned even further. Meanwhile, the student council president appeared to be contemplating something else. Then, she spoke up a terrifying statement—for them.
“Well, if you keep resisting like this, maybe I really should expose everything. It could be considered collective responsibility.”
Upon hearing the student council president’s threat, the classmates united and attempted to make Matsuyama kneel.
“Just do it already, damn it!”
“Or we’ll make you!”
“Yeah, that’s right!”
“There’s no other choice!”
His classmates tried to force him to kneel before me.
“And don’t just apologize for the sake of it. Put your heart into it!” She tried to force him down.
Despite being the one he was to kneel before, I felt completely out of the loop.
Before my eyes, I saw these pitiful classmates of mine trying to put forward a sacrifice so they could save their own skin, with Matsuyama as their lamb. Meanwhile, Saki participated by trying to force him down to the ground.
I watched their actions with a cold, detached gaze.
How did it come to this?
“Come on! On your knees already!”
“You jerks! I’ll remember this!”
Matsuyama desperately resisted but was outnumbered. Just as they were about to forcefully press his head against the ground, I took action.
“Wha—?” The classroom froze in time at my unexpected intervention. Saki was the first to reboot herself.
“W-Wait, Akito! What do you mean by ‘that’s enough’!?”
Saki approached me in bewilderment. I conveyed my thoughts directly to her.
“I forgive him without kneeling, whatever. Watching more of this circus is just unbearable.”
“But, Akito, if you do that—”
“Saki!” I interjected with a yell, which made her flinch. Then, I called out to the classmates who grabbed the pitiful loser down with the stillest tone I could muster. “I said, watching this any longer will make me sick to my stomach. Just let him go.”
“If you say so, Iwaki…”
The classmates who were holding down Matsuyama released him. He then looked at me with unbelieving eyes, but I ignored his gaze. At that moment, the bystander, the president, spoke to me.
“You might not have a chance to retaliate like this again. Is it really okay?”
“Sure. I don’t give a damn for this sorta stuff.”
“I see. But don’t you hold a grudge against Yuya-kun?”
“I did. But seeing him in this pathetic state only evokes pity in me. I don’t give a sh*t about bullying people weaker than me just to assert some half-a*sed dominance.”
Matsuyama clenched his fists upon being called weak by me. The classmates around then lowered their heads, seemingly trying to evade responsibility.
“I’ll just chalk this whole circus up to me sleeping through classes and take it as a lesson not to do it anymore. Whatever.”
The council president looked surprised while Saki seemed like she wanted to say something. But perhaps my scolding had an effect on her, as she remained silent and watched. Then, the president burst into laughter, holding her stomach.
“Um, did I say something strange?” I asked her hesitantly.
“Sorry,” she wiped a joyful tear. “I’m just impressed there’s a single soul who’d say something like that in this situation.”
“Yeah. I’d like to talk with you again sometime,” she looked through me as if she were assessing my very character. Then, she abruptly turned around. “For now, my promise with Saki-chan ends here. I’m going home.”
“Yes, thank you very much.”
“And for everyone else, if you do anything more, I’ll readily expose everything anytime. Keep that in mind going forward.”
My classmates all nodded vigorously in response. Satisfied with their reactions, Prez nodded approvingly.
“Well then, Saki-chan, see you later. Iwaki-kun too.”
“Yes, thank you very much.”
Having said her piece, Ayaka waved her hand and left the classroom. The rest of us were left in complete silence, which lasted until Saki tugged my sleeve ever-so-gently. With a slightly downcast expression, she spoke to me,
“Akito, about that…”
“I’m sorry, I went too far… I’ll reflect on it…”
I didn’t get what she was trying to say at first, but I realized it quite fast.
“Ah… Don’t worry. Just be careful not to go too far,” I replied with a wry smile.
“Yes…” It seemed like she genuinely felt remorse for going all gung-ho on them.
It’s been a while since I’ve seen her so dejected…
Having her so unusually sad made a sense of protectiveness swell from within me. Forgetting I was at the epicenter of the hurricane, I gently stroked her head.
“Huh?” Matsuyama growled, but I ignored him.
“A-Akito?!” Saki blushed profusely.
“Thanks to you, Saki, I’ve been having a lot of fun for the first time. So please, don’t blame yourself too much.”
“And, y’know, I had every intention to make him kneel and apologize. So I should say I’m sorry to you, as well.”
I tried to encourage Saki by saying that we were in the same boat, but she vehemently raised her head and retorted.
“That’s not true! Akito, you forgave Matsuyama-kun despite all the terrible things he did! There’s no one in this country, no, in the whole world who can do something like that!”
“C’mon… You’re exaggerating, Saki,” her excessive praise embarrassed me.
Saki began fidgeting restlessly, intertwining her own fingers while trying to form the words she so desperately wanted to say. Then, with eyes as passionate as the setting sun, she looked at me with a tilt of her head.
“Well, I fell in love with you all over again because of your kindness!”
Saki’s words pierced my heart. And then, I realized — I was doing something incredibly embarrassing in front of my classmates. Saki, too, blushed with embarrassment after saying something so corny in front of an audience. They all watched over us in astonishment.
However, in such a warm atmosphere, there was someone who said something incredibly dense.
“Wait a minute! The person Saki likes is me, right!?” Matsuyama yelled.
“Why would’ya think that, bucko?!” I couldn’t help but speak in a Kansai dialect.
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