The Girls Who Traumatized Me Volume 1 Chapter 5

Chapter Five: “The Weight of False Accusations”
 
Crowded trains, the baptism of corporate slaves. Good morning, early start today.
 
My life plan is all messed up and delayed, but even I am commuting by train today. I spent the night at Aunt Sekka’s house.
 
Sekka Kokonoe is my mother’s younger sister, so she’s my aunt.
 
Kokonoe is my mother’s maiden name. I lived with Aunt Sekka for about a month in the past. My mother and Aunt Sekka had a big fight over me, so Aunt Sekka took me away and said I couldn’t stay with my mother.
 
Since then, she gets sad when I don’t come to stay with her regularly. That’s why I’m commuting by train today.
 
For some reason, Aunt Sekka is so worried about me that she’s overprotective. Although kind aunt sounds nice, she’s too young to be an aunt.
 
She tries to buy me all sorts of things, but yesterday I resigned myself to defeat. She melts my steely mental strength into a sticky mess. When she whispers in my ear, “Yuki dear, isn’t there anything you want? Children or…” I shudder to imagine what I would be like ten months later if I nodded yes. It’s scary. Way too scary. I could only pretend not to hear.
 
They call it a crowded train, but today I’m sitting. Because I won the seat-grabbing game. A slight feeling of superiority. The jealous stares feel nice – but when we arrived at the next station, new passengers were forcibly pushed into the car.
 
Is this person okay? The woman in front of me doesn’t look well. She seems nauseous. I’ve heard that more and more seniors are getting angry when you offer them a seat, saying you’re treating them like an old person, but I wonder what it would be like in this case. Still, it doesn’t help to think about it.
 
“Here you go.”
 
“Oh…thank you.”
 
I promptly got up and offered my seat. Don’t let my appearance fool you, I’m quite confident in my physical strength. I may have fallen into lazy ways as a member of the Go-Home Club now, but I used to dedicate myself to club activities in the past. My legs are strong. And with only about ten minutes left, there’s no need to sit stubbornly.
 
To kill time, I use my smartphone. My search history contains unspeakable words like “ten months later,” so I’ll delete them later.
 
While I’m thinking about such things, a student comes into view near the entrance to the train. Why is that important, you ask, but she had her head down as if she was suffering something.
 
Too many people getting sick? Is it because of this terribly crowded train environment? But it didn’t seem that way. She was shaking, pressed against the wall. Only one possible reason occurred to her.
 
“Isn’t it a little too lively this early in the morning?”
 
I suppose most people are still sleepy this early, but some might feel lively in a different way. I’m worried about Aunt Sekka myself, so I can’t judge others, but that doesn’t mean I’d get excited on a crowded train like this.
 
I don’t have any weird hobbies like that! It’s true, really!
 
I carefully slip through the crowd to get closer. Observing from a slight distance.
 
As much as I hate to admit it, there’s no mistake. A fine adult groping a high school girl’s butt this early, how is that okay? Too many perverts. It’s too pathological. I let out a sigh before I knew it.
 
When we arrive at the next station, I move with the flow of people to get close to her and reach out to grab the clerk’s arm–
 
“What do you think you’re doing?”
 
Before I knew it, my hand was being grabbed instead.
 
I realized it. That I was in trouble again.
 

My best friend, Yumi Mikumo, just contacted me.
 
It seems that she was groped by a chikan again. She really is too popular to be fondled even in the short time before we meet. A delicate little animal like her tends to be targeted.
 
Once we meet at the station, I’ll be with her, so there’s no problem, but I can’t help but worry that she’ll inevitably end up alone until then. And in fact, I am sometimes contacted by Yumi in this way.
 
Seeing the short message “Help” typed into her phone makes me angry.
 
Is it because things like this happen all the time? Yumi had developed a slight mistrust of men. There should be a lot of people in the carriage. Not everyone is a chikan. Then why doesn’t anyone try to help? Those passengers who pretend not to see are also guilty in my eyes.
 
(So, what should I do…?)
 
It depends on how the other person reacts. If he sincerely apologizes, there may still be room for discussion, but depending on his attitude, I may have to report him to the police. In that case, I would be late for school, but it’s for the sake of justice. I can explain the circumstances to the school from the station staff or the police.
 
The train arrives. I can spot Yumi right away, because she always sits in the same car at the same place.
 
Okay, what kind of guy is the opponent today? Don’t let appearances fool you, I do martial arts so I have decent arm strength. Most importantly, as the student council president, I cannot allow an entity to harm the students of my school. It’s on the way to school.
 
This was the duty and pride of Keido Mutsuki, the student council president’s justice.
 
“It’s that guy!”
 
I grab the man’s arm and twist it in the direction of Yumi. When I tried to see what kind of guy he was, I was surprised. He was a student from my school.
 
“What do you think you’re doing?”
 

“No, it wasn’t me, but…”
 
“I don’t want to hear excuses. Aren’t you ashamed to be a student from my school?”
 
My arm is twisted and I’m pinned to the floor. I probably could have shaken myself free, but it seemed like it would only complicate the situation, so I obediently complied. I kind of figured it might turn out like this, didn’t I? First yelled at as a chikan on the train, then dragged out and interrogated. It was my day of complete misfortune.
 
“I clearly saw with my own eyes how you reached for Yumi. You’d better not lie.”
 
“You have the wrong person.”
 
“What did you…?”
 
More weight was placed on my arm. It was an impressive movement. Maybe she has some martial arts experience. She’s tall with a solid physique.
 
Totally different from the other student crouching next to us. She looks vaguely familiar, but her name wasn’t in my memory bank. I could say she has an athletic image, but in reality she’s muscular.
 
“If you had honestly admitted it and apologized, there might have been room for leniency, but…”
 
“I can’t admit to something I didn’t do. It goes against justice.”
 
“Don’t talk about justice, you chikan.”
 
“Because I’m not a chikan.”
 
“Then I have no choice but to call the police.”
 
I’m done for. She doesn’t listen at all. From my position, I could just let her call the police. A proper investigation should prove my innocence. In that case, it would be inconvenient for them, but if I’m falsely accused as a criminal, I won’t have any sympathy. They brought it on themselves, so they should suffer the consequences.
 
“Then go ahead and call them.”
 
“Do you really think that being a student means you won’t be accused of a crime? You’re pretty stupid.”
 
“I think you’re the stupid one.”
 
“This is going nowhere. I’m sorry, I’ll contact the police. A person like you is not suitable for my school. You are unnecessary.”
 
“A-ah, I understand.”
 
Hearing these words, the station staff ran over to call the police. But why is my luck with women so bad? Nothing good comes out of interfering.
 
“Wait. He’s not the criminal.”
 
Maybe my luck isn’t so bad after all.
 

 
I was surprised to see that the chikan culprit was a student from my school. A junior, I think. It bothers me that he shows no reaction when he sees me, but I feel a slight pang of conscience for destroying a young person’s future. However, this student shows absolutely no remorse. He insists that he didn’t do it, no matter what. I am becoming increasingly irritated with his shameless attitude.
 
Since he’s a student from my school, if I leave him alone, he might run into Yumi at school. Would Yumi, who is suspicious of men, be able to bear it if the one who groped her was at the same school? She was saved this time, but one day a situation may arise where she is attacked. I could never forgive that.
 
This student must be expelled. It will not be an advantage to have such a student enrolled. Judging that there was no room for rehabilitation, I decided to call the police.
 
“This is going nowhere. I’m sorry, I’ll call the police. A person like you is not suitable for my school. You are unnecessary.”
 
“A-ah, I understand.”
 
This means I’ll definitely be late for school, but there’s nothing I can do about it. If I don’t do anything, not only Yumi but also other female students and women might become victims. He is a being that cannot be forgiven.
 
Why is there no one to help Yumi, but there are people like him? It puts me in a dark mood first thing in the morning.
 
“Wait. He’s not the criminal.”
 
These words slipped into my ears while I was complaining inwardly.
 

“Oh, you’re that person?”
 
“Thanks for earlier.”
 
The woman who called out to me looked a little better now.
 
It was the woman who had stood before me this morning. It looks like she’s going to help me. Maybe the woodcutter who dropped his axe in the lake felt the same way when he saw the goddess.
 
“What do you mean? Sorry, who are you?”
 
“I was sitting in front of him. He’s not a chikan.”
 
“Sitting in front? I saw this man reach out to Yumi. Why would you try to shield him when you were in the middle of the carriage?”
 
“Because he went over to the girl by himself.”
 
“That was probably to grope her, right?”
 
“No. Hey, do you remember when you were groped? Were there any students in uniform around you?”
 
The focus shifts to the student who was groped, who has barely spoken so far.
 
“Huh…I-I was…”
 
“Try to remember clearly. He thought you were being groped, so he went over to help, I’m sure. He approached you just before we arrived at this station. What kind of people were around you when you were being groped? You probably remember something, right?”
 
“There were only adult men around, I was scared…Oh yeah, I think one of them might have been wearing a suit…”
 
“Were there any students wearing the same school uniform as you?”
 
“I don’t think there were…n-no, there definitely weren’t!”
 
“What!?”
 
The senior who is still holding my arm doesn’t listen to anything I say. The only thing I can do in this position is enjoy the sensation on my hand, but the situation doesn’t warrant it. It’s sad.
 
“Haa….I may have been a bit hasty. You girls may have ruined his life, you know? Not only that. If his innocence came out later, you would have been condemned as the ones who falsely accused him. You have to be more careful with such things. You can’t just act without thinking carefully, right?”
 
“Then you wanted to help Yumi…”
 
“S-sorry! I’m really sorry!”
 
“There, there, don’t worry about it too much. It’s my fault after all.”
 
“…. What do you mean…?”
 
Now that I’m being apologized to, I don’t feel anything special. In other words, as usual, I made some kind of mistake. Acting was the mistake. Caring was the failure.
 
“You’re the one who helped, so I wasn’t needed.”
 
Nothing good comes from interfering. I should know that better than anyone, yet I always end up making the wrong choice. Because when it comes down to it–
 
“I should have just ignored it.
 
I should have just ignored her. Besides, if she’s being groped, she can scream herself. Nothing is going to be solved by relying on someone, depending on someone, being protected by someone. At least that’s how I’ve lived my life so far.
 
“–!”
 
“Can you let me go now? Don’t worry. I won’t make the same mistake again. I’ll never try to help you again. As you said, upperclassman, I’m unnecessary.”
 
I won’t make the same mistake again. Since the cause is clear this time, the solution is simple. From now on, when I see a woman who seems to be being groped, I won’t pay attention to her. Nothing will happen. I won’t get involved in anything. The one who needs to change is the victim herself, and the one who commits the crime is the chikan offender. It has nothing to do with an outsider like me. After all, we’re complete strangers, so it’s none of my business.
 
“W-wait! I’m sorry, you didn’t do anything wrong. Your actions were-“
 
“That’s enough. Well then.”
 
I shake the upperclassman’s hand as she chases after me and turn my back. I bow to the older sister.
 
If it were not for this person, something even more troublesome could have happened.
 
She’s nothing less than my savior!
 
“May I call you Messiah?”
 
“I’d rather you didn’t, but thanks to you, I feel a little more comfortable. You see, I have low blood pressure in the morning and I wasn’t feeling very well today. It was especially rough, so I was glad you gave me your seat. And yet you got into this mess. I was surprised. I just had to get involved when something like this was bothering me.”
 
“Are you feeling better now?”
 
“Still a little, I think. I was going to go to college after this, but it looks like I’ll have to take the morning off.”
 
“I’m feeling sick too, so I’ll take a break at a cafe or something.”
 
“Oh, is it okay for you to take a break? Can I join you then?”
 
“I’m a problem child, so it’s okay. In that case, let me treat you. It’s the least I can do to thank you for helping me.”
 
“I don’t think that’s necessary, but thank you. I was also helped…”
 
“The return is too great.”
 
Chatting like that, I ended up taking a break with the elder sister in a cafe for a while.
 
Her name seems to be Mio Ninomiya. She gave me her contact information and said, “If there’s any trouble later, please let me know. Just as there are women who falsely accuse, there are also saviors who help. Where there’s a God who gives up, there’s a God who picks up. It’s a brilliant design. That aside.
 
“I really don’t want to go to school…”
 
My mood cleared up a bit, but it’s after 10 a.m. now. When it gets to this point, I don’t want to go to school anymore because I missed the time. Yes, I’m the outlaw Yukito Kokonoe. I’m a problem child to begin with. Skipping a little shouldn’t be a big deal.
 
Come to think of it, if you take the train from here for about thirty minutes, you get to the seaside area. One of my few hobbies is sweets, and I’ve heard that there’s a shop there that sells cakes limited to fifty a day, which is becoming a hot topic. The sugar calls out to me.
 
“Heh. So it’s decided then…”
 
I laugh nihilistically to myself and start walking in the opposite direction of the school.
 
I guess you could call this youth.
 

And so, after skipping school and arriving alone at the seaside, the limited cakes were very, very tasty. Being limited and all. I achieved my biggest goal, but there’s still the possibility of going to school in the afternoon.
 
No one would ever guess that I’d be playing around in a place like this after skipping school. Hehehe.
 
There are lots of places to play. I could go shopping at the mall. Or I could ride the Ferris wheel, or like kids on a field trip, visit a TV station for no real reason. A solo school trip has a bit of a gloomy guy feel to it that seems fun. Unlike the festivals of Obon Week and New Year’s Eve, there is a certain romance in walking alone around the empty International Expo Center. The spring sunshine was dazzling. The smell of the sea somehow lifted my mood.
 
I gazed absentmindedly at the sea. Waterfowl were frolicking happily together.
 
They say the return rate of lost property in Japan is around sixty percent, but will the day come when my lost feeling is returned, I wonder?
 
At some point in my life, I dropped “good will”.
 
I can’t remember exactly when it was. Was it then or now? No matter how much I look back, I can’t find the answer. They say retracing your steps helps when you’re lost, but doesn’t that just get you more lost?
 
Where is the “good will” I lost? Will the day come when I can get it back? After dropping the “good will,” nothing interests me anymore. I don’t care how others see me or think of me. Without good will, there is no ill will. Even if others hate me, I don’t care one bit. Whatever feelings they have make no difference to me, and I have no such feelings toward others.
 
An empty void where emotions should be.
 
But that’s strange. It makes no sense. There must have been a time when I had “good will” toward someone. And now that I have dropped that “good will,” I have no right to face anyone. No matter what feelings others have for me, I can’t reciprocate with the same level of feelings.
 
No matter how much “good will” is shown to me, I will not return any “good will.
 
I can’t return it. Those feelings of “liking,” which should come after “love,” I have lost.
 
So I shouldn’t get involved with anyone. At least not until I get back what I lost. Until then, I must remain a dark loner.
 
“That’s what I think, but…”
 
Why on earth did things turn out this way? Contrary to my intentions, for some reason there seem to be a lot of people who want to get involved with me. Frankly, it’s annoying. The way I am now, lacking something, all I’m doing is hurting them. Make them unhappy. Even though I don’t want to.
 
I absentmindedly check my phone. I had received several messages. Since I left without saying anything. Maybe someone was worried and contacted me. I should have just ignored them. Why are they trying to interfere? It’s not a good tendency. There’s no point in worrying about someone like me. That’s probably why I’m in a place like this now, because they don’t understand that.
 
“Haah…”
 
Somehow, a feeling of melancholy returned. By this time, I had completely lost any desire to go to school in the afternoon. I’m bored, so I’ll go to the Game Center.
 

 

 

 
“Excuse me, is Kokonoe in this class?”
 
Lunch break. Sudden visitors appear.
 
“The student council president and…vice president?”
 
They were Keido Mutsuki and Mikumo Yumi. President Keido has many opportunities to greet the entire student body. Even as a freshman, I knew her face.
 
Why would the president want something from a first year? She’s not the kind of person who would show her face in a freshman room for no reason. Amidst the suspicious looks, Sakurai replied.
 
“Kokonoe is absent today, did you need him for something?”
 
“For Kokonoe, it’s skipping, you know…”
 
Mineta scoffs. Keido’s expression becomes distinctly stern.
 
“What? He’s not here? No, that’s strange. He went to school this morning.”
 
“Th-that’s bad, Mutsuki…”
 
“Come to think of it, Mr. Fujishiro said she hasn’t been contacted either.”
 
“What should we do, maybe he went straight home…”
 
“Senpai, did something happen?”
 
“I want to know too. I tried to contact him, but I didn’t get an answer…”
 
A murmur of confusion spread through the classroom.
 
“Sorry. It’s not something I can talk about easily. Yumi, let’s go to the teachers’ room.”
 
“Yes, we have to hurry!”
 
The upperclassmen ran off looking nervous, and the class fell silent.
 
The atmosphere was that something must have happened.
 
“I’m going too.”
 
Kouki runs out into the hallway.
 
Several students follow the upperclassmen as if they were chasing them.
 

 
“Mr. Fujishiro! Sorry to bother you during your break. Do you know anything about Kokonoe?”
 
The door to the teachers’ lounge bursts open. Hearing his name suddenly called while he was sitting and eating bread, Fujishiro instinctively choked.
 
cough cough W-what is it, Keido? Rare to see you. What happened to Kokonoe?”
 
“It’s our fault!”
 
“Please don’t choke me! Calm down. What happened?”
 
“Have you heard from Kokonoe? I heard he’s out today.”
 
“Ahh, what a nuisance. No contact and an unexcused absence.”
 
“No, he was right there this morning–!”
 
“Just tell me what happened! Don’t strangle me. Let me go! What happened?”
 
The two of them told Fujishiro the circumstances of this morning. Fujishiro’s expression became harder and harder.
 
While the other teachers were also listening to the unusual circumstances, Kouki and the others had already arrived. Ignoring the situation, Keido and Yumi continue.
 
“And that’s why he didn’t come today? It’s good that it didn’t escalate, but if it had become something serious, I would have had no choice but to punish someone.”
 
“It’s all my fault! He did nothing wrong!”
 
“Even more so in this case. Otherwise, Kokonoe would have… No, on the contrary, you two would have been investigated. Honestly, how annoying…”
 
“Teacher, what should we do? We don’t know where he is.”
 
“Under the circumstances, I’ll consider the unexcused absence, but I haven’t received any contact either. Perhaps Yuuri would know something-“
 
“Kokonoe-I see, so he’s Yuuri Kokonoe’s younger brother!”
 
“Mutsuki, let’s go!”
 
“Wait, don’t rush. I’ll call her over the intercom.”
 
The situation became more and more confusing.
 

 
This is bad, at this rate–!
 
When was the last time I felt so impatient?
 
No, maybe this is the first time ever. A vague uneasiness swirled in my chest.
 
During the lunch break, I went to his classroom to apologize formally. Checking the face I remembered against the student register, I immediately identified his class. His name is Yukito Kokonoe.
 
I can’t get his parting words out of my head. My chest tightens at the thought that I may have done something irreparable. I distorted his sense of justice, twisted it. I arrogantly trampled on what was precious to him.
 
Despite my position as student council president, I cannot fail to protect students and end up hurting them instead. So far, I have valued justice. I have tried to act fairly and honestly.
 
Before I knew it, people began to gather around me, and my surroundings began to view me favorably.
 
And now I hold the position of student council president.
 
But that is only after the fact. I was just following my own beliefs, my own sense of justice. My current position is merely the result.
 
My beliefs have been shaken. I’m shocked to find my own foothold so fragile.
 
The fear that my justice has distorted someone else’s justice.
 
He did nothing wrong. His actions embodied justice itself. I don’t think I did anything wrong either, and if the same thing happened again, I would move without hesitation.
 
But because of my lack of consideration, my refusal to listen, my narrow-mindedness, I unilaterally hurt the other party. That was my own fault and sin. It’s something I have to atone for.
 
Otherwise, I will never be able to act according to my own sense of justice.
 
For my justice must not distort the justice of others.
 
Somehow I can’t calm the restless feeling in my chest. This is the second time I’ve felt this way.
 
Why am I remembering this now? Is it because of the look in his eyes when he left?
 
He didn’t come to school. It’s probably because of me. Because I hurt him. What is he doing now? Is he sunk in sorrow? In despair? Is he hating me as a human being?
 
I’m afraid. Scared to meet him. Yet, I must…
 

 
“How could you do this to him?”
 
“Yuuri, calm down! Can you contact Kokonoe Yukito?”
 
“Why didn’t you tell me before?”
 
“Didn’t you commute together?”
 
“We go separately only for today! Oh, dear!”
 
As I seethe with anger, those around me shudder, but that’s not the point.
 
Stupid upperclassmen. Who cares if she’s the president of the student council? I can’t believe someone like that is president! Again. Someone hurt this kid again. Just like me. She repeat what I did before. I call him quickly. He should answer if it’s a call from me.
 
After several rings, contrary to my worries, the call went through without a hitch.
 
“Yukito! Where are you right now?”
 
[At the ocean I guess?]
 
“Huh, the ocean?”
 
The people around me stir. That makes no sense. It’s not the kind of place you’d go after skipping school. Especially given the circumstances, it conjures up unpleasant images.
 
“You didn’t think of doing something like jumping off, did you?”
 
I blurt out in fear. The tension in the teachers’ room was clearly rising. Not only his teacher Fujishiro. The other teachers are also waiting silently with bated breath.
 
[Ahahahaha. Super funny]
 
“This is no laughing matter!”
 
[I haven’t found what I lost either, so I’ll be heading back soon. Oh yeah, I got souvenirs.]
 
“Souvenirs? Where on earth did you go?”
 
[I’m a problem child, so that much is nothing.]
 
“What do you mean, problem child? It hasn’t been that long, has it?”
 
“He says…problem child? Could it be that my words drove him to…”
 
Fujishiro Sayuri mumbles, but I have no time to worry about that now.
 
[The international exhibition is only worth going to during Obon and New Year’s, I guess.]
 
“What are you talking about? I heard what happened. You’re okay…right? You really are coming back…right?”
 
[Just wait till I graduate high school. I won’t give you any more trouble after that, Yuuri-san].
 
“….High school? Wait. What do you mean by that? Don’t tell me you…”
 
[It’s almost time. It’s too early for me to leave.]
 
“Wait, Yukito! That’s how you really feel!”
 
[I’m going home now.]
 
The call ended. I was in a daze. Could it be that even now…
 
“Hey, Yuuri. You seem to be panicking. Are you okay?”
 
“He said she’s going home for now.”
 
“I see.”
 
“He said he was going back now. I expect he’ll go to school tomorrow as usual. Should we hear what he has to say tomorrow? There’s nothing more we can do today.”
 
“Yuuri, I’m really very sorry!”
 
“I’m so sorry!”
 
“I will never forgive you for this.”
 
I left the staff room without even looking at her. Yukito’s classmates were there, too.
 
I could not hear what they were saying to me. I couldn’t get my brother’s farewell words out of my head. I had thought so. Seeing his attitude, I had a premonition that such a day would come.
 
I still remember those words. The lingering feeling in my hand. The haggard expression. The slight hint of Yukito’s true feelings that slipped out during our conversation. It was extremely rare for this child to reveal even a little of his inner thoughts. Perhaps today’s events had given him more to think about.
 
He said I should just wait until high school. In that case, there’s only three years left until graduation. Once that is over, it will surely be too late.
 
Suzurikawa Hinagi, his childhood friend. Being with her had made my brother better. I thought I could leave him to her, but before I realized, he had returned to the way he was before. No, he was worse than before. And the childhood friend who had always been by his side was gone.
 
After he began to devote himself to basketball as if to forget her, this time a woman named Shiori Kamishiro supported my brother. He gradually opened up to her. I wondered if she might be the one, but in the end, she only hurt my brother again before she disappeared.
 
I didn’t expect even the student council president to join the battle royale that is my brother’s trauma circus, but why do troublesome women similar to me keep gathering around and hurting my brother?
 
My brother doesn’t need anyone to hurt him. I can’t trust anyone anymore. He doesn’t believe in anyone anymore. I’m the only one who can. I won’t betray him this time…
 


 
There’s a saying that samurai don’t need to eat as long as they have their honor, but I’m not a samurai, I’m a high school student. And this is Reiwa, not the Edo period. Still, I’d like to live such a dignified life. Even a lonely guy like me has that much desire. I’ll banish Hitobashira for now.
 
Anyway, it is lunch time. I’m standing in the hallway in front of the classroom.
 
In front of me, the president and vice president of the student council are prostrating themselves in the Dogeza style. Huh, what’s this situation?
 
“Yukito Kokonoe, I’m really sorry! Please forgive me.”
 
“I’m sorry, Kokonoe!”
 
Needless to say, the classroom is buzzing. Students walking down the hall have also stopped to watch from a distance. People are filming with their cell phones. For now, I’m making a peace sign. I’m standing out. Ridiculously conspicuous. Hey, these people are weird! They’re samurai!? When did I become a feudal lord? It’s time for a change of scenery. I desperately want to get off the main road of glory. The traffic light was red on my dark solitary path.
 
“Raise your head. No, I’m just kidding. Please stand up since you’re so conspicuous.”
 
“I want to sincerely apologize for hurting you.”
 
“Um… thank you for trying to help!”
 
“Didn’t I tell you it’s okay now?”
 
I finally raised their head, and the student council president and vice president stood up. The crowd around us continued to grow, but the two of them seemed oblivious to the surroundings and paid no attention to it.
 
Objectively speaking, there was no way not to be noticed when the seniors came all the way to the freshman classroom to bow and apologize. Especially when the person they were apologizing to was the student council president. They were quickly becoming the talk of the school, and I desperately wanted to stay out of the spotlight. The red light was shining on my introverted loner path.
 
Besides, if they wanted to apologize, shouldn’t they have brought some kind of golden dumpling with silver coins inside? The Echigo-ya must be angry as well.
 
“This is not possible. This is important to me too!”
 
“Um, I want you to let me give you something as a thank you…”
 
“Please take them back.”
 
Since I only lose one-sidedly by getting involved, I tell them coldly.
 
But the upperclassmen’s eyes were somehow feverish and turned around.
 
“Yukito Kokonoe, —-, embrace me!”
 
“I was wondering if you’d let me treat you to some delicious food, but… Mutsuki!”
 
I see, upperclassmen enunciate clearly. They have nice, clear voices. As expected from the student council president. The school will remain peaceful. Yes, yes. Fortunately, the vice president seems normal. Huh, yeah, I know! This is escapism, damn it! For now, I’ll pretend I didn’t hear anything. As the protagonist, I have that ability.
 


 
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scene transition
 


 
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“Wait, what?”
 
“Kokonoe, this is my first time too. If possible, I’d like you to use this.”
 
My technique fell short due to my lack of skill. I’ll improve. Senpai, looking nervous, hands me something. The box is marked 〇-〇mm. I don’t know… I don’t know. It looks too familiar. It was also placed in a very conspicuous place in Sekka-san’s house, as if to appeal to me.
 
And isn’t it thin? Technological progress is amazing!
 
“But if you don’t want to wear it, I’ll accept that.”
 
“Mutsuki-chan!? Hey, something’s wrong, what’s going on?”
 
The vice president shakes President Mutsuki violently, but she remains motionless. I wonder if her legs and back are strong. Her posture is beautiful and I can feel that her core is well trained. Amazing.
 
“But if you want to do it, I don’t mind not having it!”
 
“She’s gone crazy! Please come to your senses!”
 
“Yumi, I’m perfectly sane.”
 
“Being sane actually worse, you know!?”
 
Come to think of it, it’s almost exam time. I have a reasonable amount of confidence in my academic abilities, so exams aren’t something to be afraid of. School ending early is like a bonus time. My thoughts drift away, all fuzzy.
 
Because listening to this makes me feel like I’m going crazy.
 
“However, from what I’ve researched, what boys appreciate as a gift is…”
 
“Whoaahhhh!”
 
“It’s in a magazine. I might have ended Kokonoe’s life because of my recklessness. So I think it’s only fair that I risk my life as well. Kokonoe, please accept this as an apology!”
 
This is it. The President is the same as Sekka-san. A predatory bird of prey. Maybe I’m just a herbivore being hunted. I’ll live quietly.
 
“Senpai, even with feelings of atonement, if you embrace someone, they won’t be happy.”
 
“W-What… but there might be some truth in that.”
 
“T-That’s right, Mutsuki-chan. Shall we calm down and think about it?”
 
“No, but Kokonoe. I do have feelings of atonement, but it’s not just that!”
 
“Ah, this person is hopeless.”
 
I tried to say something that sounded plausible, but I failed. I don’t have any experience, but there’s nothing else to do here. The last resort when all else fails. They say, “A wise man never fights a losing battle,” but I wasn’t winning from the start.
 
“Besides, I’m on lunch duty today, so excuse me!”
 
I couldn’t escape the situation. I fled from that place. Strategic retreat in the face of overwhelming odds is a tactic in the art of war. I lost from the beginning.
 
“You perveeeeeeeeeeeeert!”
 
My anguished scream reached the end of the hallway, or so I heard.
 

 
Having escaped the clutches of the perverted hand, I had fled to the emergency stairs. At this point, it was truly a place of respite. Exhausted, I took a deep breath and sat down. But for some reason, someone was already there, a familiar figure – one of the Twelve Olympian Gods.
 
“Aphrodite-senpai?”
 
“…”
 
I was ignored. She seemed upset. I didn’t have the energy to engage with her, especially after the President’s harassment. Everyone has their off days, even big sis has them about once a month. It’s best not to get involved at times like this.
 
I opened the bag of grape bread and cheese-milk bread I had bought. This time it was the perfect combination. It was supposed to be a triumphant moment.
 
“Uh, why are you ignoring me and eating?”
 
“Annoying…oh, in a good way.”
 
“Didn’t I tell you that saying that doesn’t make it okay?”
 
“Even if you say that, I’m not involved.”
 
“Yes, you are! Don’t you remember what you said when we met before?”
 
“I said something?”
 
“You told you that me come here once or twice a week! But when I come here, you’re never there!”
 
Now that you mention it, I think something like that happened. I completely forgot. The weather was bad, and I remember eating in the classroom as usual. Anyway, I’m going to avoid mentioning it and just avoid the subject. I’m the kind of person who can read the atmosphere without causing trouble.
 
“Various things happened. By the way, Aphrodite-senpai, did you come here every day?”
 
“No, I didn’t. I just came here occasionally because sometimes I want to be alone. I didn’t do it because of you, you know?”
 
“Isn’t that what people like us, introverted loners, do? Ahaha.”
 
“Stop it! Don’t compare me to that! Besides, isn’t there something weird about my name?”
 
“I mean, you’re a goddess.”
 
“You’re making it even more confusing!”
 
“But I don’t know your name…”
 
“I introduced myself, didn’t I? Have you forgotten? You’re wrong about something.”
 
“Cheese and milk bread has two dairy products. It’s pretty funny.”
 
“Listen! Are you trying to get my attention? Even I, a sophomore, am quite popular, you know?”
 
“Wow, acting like a star.”
 
“Stop being sarcastic! It’s embarrassing.”
 
“All right, all right. By the way, why is Suzurikawa here…?”
 
While Aphrodite-senpai continued with her self-deprecating boasts, I noticed a boy and a girl approaching. They looked tense, not like friends.
 
“What’s wrong… Wait, this is bad. They’re coming this way, right?”
 
“Wouldn’t it be better to act naturally? We’re not doing anything wrong.”
 
“This is awkward! It’s probably a confession.”
 
“Oh, now that you mention it, didn’t Aphrodite-senpai get confessed here?”
 
“Heheh. That’s right. I’m quite popular, you know!”
 
“Cheese milk bread, with two dairy products, is hilarious.”
 
“Seriously, you underestimate me, don’t you? Hey, look, hide!”
 
Hastily, she took my hand, and we walked into the shade of a tree.
 
“Do you happen to know either of them?”
 
“Yes. The girl is a classmate of mine.”
 
“It’s a real pain when it happened to me, but somehow this makes me nervous!”
 
If there’s someone, who looked at our behavior, would think we’re just suspicious people.
 
Meanwhile, they were exchanging words. I couldn’t hear the content, but I had a hunch that Suzurikawa might have been called. Come to think of it, she mentioned that she had broken up with Senpai. If that’s true, she might be starting a new relationship.
 
It seemed like the confession had ended, as the two of them returned separately.
 
“Sigh… I was nervous. She was pretty cute, but I wonder what happened?”
 
“Aphrodite-senpai, boasting in a self-deprecating way, it’s almost time for lunch to end.”
 
“It seems that we will have to settle things seriously at some point.”
 
The bell rang and we broke up. Oh no, I forgot to ask her name. Who is this person, if not Aphrodite? Athena would be a good guess if it’s an important person. If I run into an acquaintance whose name I can’t remember or have forgotten, I can just say Tanaka, Sato, or Suzuki and have a 20% chance of being right. Most of the time they’ll tell me their name afterwards. It’s also a way of dealing with things.
 

 
At that moment we hadn’t noticed.
 
I hadn’t noticed the presence of a student who was staring darkly at the boy and girl returning to the classroom.


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