Read at Watashi wa Sugoi Desu!
The next day, the result of the quiz was revealed.
I naturally scored 0 since I didn’t answer any questions, while Arisu-chan got a perfect score.
In terms of difficulty, it was a very easy one… was what Arisu-chan told me.
That said, since it was already announced it wouldn’t be reflected in your grade, it seemed not many people in class B seriously put effort into it.
And thus, Arisu-chan and I safely become a pair.
The rules of pairing were simple. First, the student with the highest score would be paired with the student with the lowest score, second with the second lowest, third with the third lowest… and so on. By the end, every group would have a similar average score. This meant unless something really unpredictable happened, people wouldn’t get expelled. For example, if my ability only allowed me to score 0, I would still get through it easily since Arisu-chan would score perfectly in all subjects. For people of Class A and Class B who were good at studying to begin with, it would be harder for them to get expelled even if the special exam was carried out normally.
After school that day.
While I was relaxing with Arisu-chan in my room, the doorbell rang.
“Sorry for the sudden visit. May I ask for some of your time from now on?”
There was no Kei-chan next to him, showing he was acting alone. This was rare.
I was invited into the room as it was and prepared teacups for three people.
It reminded me of when I first enrolled in this school.
What would happen if Arisu-chan didn’t resort to “play” and we just spent our time indifferently?
…It would become a very dull and boring life. It is highly possible I would be unable to bear the boredom and choose to drop out of school voluntarily. It was hard to do now considering the difficult relationship with Honami, but as I thought, what Arisu-chan decided was not a mistake. After all, those who had fun in school were the winners.
While I was thinking about that, the water boiled.
I put the tea leaves into the teapot and poured water into it. I felt like drinking green tea for today.
“Sorry to trouble you.”
“Don’t worry about it. I’m just doing it because I want to.”
I did it because I wanted to. Everything I did could be summed up with those words.
Even taking care of Arisu-chan since childhood was something I did without anyone asking me to.
“…Today, I came here to ask a favor about Horikita.”
“I see. I heard about the sports festival from Kikyou-chan, so I thought you had a reason for doing so.”
While talking, I poured the tea into tea cups. The key point was to use just enough water so no tea remained in the teapot. It was something that Arisu-chan taught me when I was little.
“Kiyotaka-kun, you seem to be trying to inflict as much humiliation as possible to Horikita-san. That’s how I interpret your action, but am I correct?”
The first to react was Arisu-chan. I still couldn’t grasp what she was talking about as usual, but it seemed that she already imagined what was going on inside Kiyotaka’s head.
“…I guess it’s as expected of you.”
“Fufu, you’re right. For someone like her, that’s the most effective method.”
I remembered when I heard that. Kiyotaka seemed to say something profound before the sports festival.
“Leaving her alone now is the best course of action…” I think that was something he said while understanding Horikita’s movement.1
Even though he knew about it, he didn’t stop her. After everything was over, he told her he knew everything about what she did. Being treated as a small fry must be very painful considering Horikita’s personality.
But why did he choose to do it at this time?
He should be capable of that anytime. I didn’t understand why he needed to rush it. In the first place, what was the benefit of humiliating Horikita for him?
“Your purpose is to crush Horikita… Well, I don’t think that’s the case.”
I couldn’t help but ask such a clumsy question out of curiosity.
Even though it was something obvious for the two, I needed an explanation since I wasn’t a genius.
“No, you’re half-correct. There’s no doubt I am trying to crush her mind.”
“Crush Horikita’s mind?”
“That’s right. What should I do to turn such a stubborn person into an obedient pawn… it is something I wanted to prove. That said, it’s a question that I still have no answer to.”
Kiyotaka politely answered my question.
Horikita Suzune was a person with a strong heart. She wasn’t someone with a “wound” like Kei-chan. Kiyotaka was trying to crush the mind of a person like that. I had no idea why he went to all that trouble though…
At that time, Arisu-chan made a slightly complicated expression.
“When Horikita-san becomes your belonging, I’m sure she’ll be interested in a different way than Kei-san. I’m looking forward to seeing how she will change.”
“Thank you. However, I instinctively realize that a mere Horikita is still far from my goal… it seems ‘winning against Haruto’ is quite difficult.”
Winning against me?
I couldn’t understand what he meant. Did he mean I had something that surpassed Kiyotaka? That was impossible… At least I thought so.
After chatting for a while, we proceeded to the main topic of the day.
“There’s one thing I want to ask you. I’d like both of you to turn a blind eye to Horikita’s actions. To be more specific, she is part of the question-maker group this time, but I’d like both of you to avoid having contact with her during this period. I intend to observe her carefully and take action accordingly.”
Kiyotaka’s request was really simple. Basically, he didn’t want us to get involved in Horikita’s matter. Now that I think about it, the incident in the library might have interfered with Kiyotaka’s action. Well, Horikita was the one who came to us back then, so it couldn’t be helped.
“…It’s amazing she could be part of the question-maker group despite the fact she betrayed the class during the sports festival.”
“For the time being, that matter is put on hold. This time, Horikita was half-forced to participate with Kei convincing her. Result-wise, Kei said she didn’t mind passing on the leadership to her… was what I told Kei to say. Horikita had no reason to refuse, and others considered that as Kei’s kindness. So far, no problems have occurred.”
He did something very bold.
Basically, Kiyotaka had no intention of winning the Paper Shuffle. Horikita might be confident, but even I knew she couldn’t beat Ryuuen as she was. Every attempt of her betrayal was seen through, and when she became an ally, the class was defeated… that would erode Horikita’s mind steadily. I felt a little sorry for her.
Arisu-chan nodded once and began to think.
“Is your final goal making it like the relationship between Haruto-kun and Honami-san?”
“…I can’t imagine Horikita becoming like that, but that’s one possibility. That said, I’d like to postpone crushing her mind thoroughly until next year onward. Otherwise, that would make me break my promise with the elder Horikita.”
I never thought it would connect in that direction. Making it like the relationship between me and Honami… huh.
Also, it seemed Kiyotaka exchanged promises with the previous student council president before I knew it. I had no idea of the exact circumstances, but I could guess when it happened.
It was the day when I was running around the school looking for Honami. Kiyotaka said he was in the student council room before meeting me. Back then, he must have submitted the decisive evidence of the deliberation… the image of Kei’s old wound.
But back then, Kiyotaka said, “I was talking with student council president Horikita about various things.” Did he need to say it that way if he was only submitting evidence?2
They weren’t only talking about the incident but also discussing something about Horikita Suzune as well. After hearing what he said earlier, it was natural to take it that way.
“Okay. From now on, we’ll basically stay as bystanders in the matter regarding Horikita.”
“That really helps. Destroy to reconstruct it… for that purpose, I need her to taste despair once.”
He was saying something scary, but I had no intention of stopping him in particular.
Despair didn’t sound good, but Horikita would have it better becoming Kiyotaka’s pawn than staying the way she was. Kei-chan also achieved her happiness that way, so as I thought, he was really the “protagonist.”
…There was just one thing that made me wonder.
It was fine for crushing Horikita’s mind and all. The problem was after that, during the reconstruction … the phase when Kiyotaka “saved” Horikita. What would Kei-chan think when she saw their relationship?
Just as Arisu-chan told me before, Kei-chan had a strong desire to monopolize. If she saw Kiyotaka hold out his hand to save Horikita, there was no doubt Kei-chan would be hurt. The thing that worried me was whether Kei-chan could endure that.
After that, Kiyotaka thanked us again and left.
After seeing him off together with Arisu-chan, we looked at each other’s faces.
“I guess he’s also focusing on having fun now.”
“You’re right. He must be influenced by you.”
We had a common understanding regarding Kiyotaka’s state.
Somehow, he seemed to be having fun. Taming someone with his own hand… perhaps he found enjoyment in that process. Of course, the ultimate goal was something else, but I felt like he was enjoying the path to reach it.
After he escaped the closed world… the White Room, he met us after one thing and another.
If Arisu-chan’s thought was correct, it meant my thoughts and actions must have influenced Kiyotaka in some way.
And I was sure that was a good change. If he could show “joy” in his emotions, I couldn’t be happier.
I smiled as I recalled how he looked when he fluently talked about his strategy.
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