Volume 9, Chapter 9

Naturally, Isshiki Iroha takes a step forward.
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It was Monday after school and we were gathering at the student council room.

We were holding a conference for the conference that we would have with Kaihin Sogo High before meeting with them. Heck, a conference for the conference based on the conference of a conference might just be held instead.

Yesterday, I sent a business-like mail to Yuigahama asking her to get in contact with all whom was concerned. Because of that, everyone was dutifully gathering.

The student council members were sitting at one corner of the desk in the conference. In that group, my eyes met with Isshiki’s.

Considering what happened the day before yesterday, I was expecting her to be dejected, but that clearly wasn’t the case since she didn’t look any different from how she usually was. Of course, she very well might’ve been putting up a brave front though.

Isshiki looked around restlessly at everyone present.

“Um, soooo, what’s the reason for everyone gathered here?”

“Objective confirmation and what to do from here on, pretty much.”

When I answered, Isshiki replied dubiously with a “haa” that looked like she had a clue but didn’t at the same time. Seeing that, Yukinoshita made a sudden frown.

“Isshiki-san, convening is something you are supposed to be doing.”

“Y-Yes…”

With Yukinoshita staring darts into her, Isshiki made a jerky response and straightened her posture. But certainly, Yukinoshita was just a tad little scary right now, yes… But we weren’t gathered here just so we could lecture Isshiki.

“Hold on, that’s not why we’re here right now…”

I spoke to try to move the conversation forward, but this time, Yukinoshita shot me a sharp gaze.

“I believe you shouldn’t confuse softheartedness with kindness.”

I get what Yukinoshita wanted to say. Affection, intolerance and reassurance were other things that shouldn’t be confused with each other. Yukinoshita’s strictness was probably something they called a whip of love of sorts for Isshiki.

“But if you’re just strict, then you’ll only come across as coldhearted.”

“That may be true, but if you do every single thing for Isshiki-san, it won’t do her any good, would it?”

When I said something, Yukinoshita would answer right back. Not good, at this rate, our arguments would continue side by side in parallel.

“It’s like I’m getting scolded by my parents…”

When Isshiki muttered with a grumble, Yukinoshita was about to say some reprimanding words again until Yuigahama stopped her.

“N-Now now, I mean, Iroha-chan’s still not used to it, so…”

“…I suppose so.”

When Yuigahama pacified the situation, Yukinoshita backed down.

Well, still, the things Yukinoshita was saying were quite right. Isshiki being able to stand on her own two feet as the president was originally what we hoped for. I wasn’t someone remarkable, let alone imposing, enough to be teaching someone, and incidentally, I wasn’t sure about the pounding in my chest1, but I had to be some form of support for Isshiki in my own way from here on.

I coughed once and focused my eyes on Isshiki directly.

“Isshiki, do you understand what the problems are right now?”

“Haa, aren’t we lacking money, time, and people?”

“That’s right. So what do we do about that?”

“Ummm… So we’d do something like outsourcing, I think? That’s where we would gather people who can perform things for us and since we lack the money to pay them, we’re now trying to collect money or something like that…”

Isshiki had a proper grasp of the current situation. Although she didn’t look like she was listening to the conversation, she most certainly was. Quite frankly, compared to the committee chairman who was in charge of the Culture Festival and Athletics Festival, it was strange how this felt a lot better even with just this much progress.

After confirming Isshiki’s understanding of things, I continued the conversation.

“And in light of how Hiratsuka-sensei reacted to the acquisition of that budget, it looks like it’ll be difficult. Also, fundraisers are a complete no for me.”

“The latter reason is completely self-centered…”

Yukinoshita let out an amazed sigh. But look here, Yukinon! Gahama-san and Iroha are both nodding their heads, see! If we were to do a fundraiser, according to my rough mental calculations, at worse we’d need at least 5,000 yen per person… That’s impossible… This amount was something I might’ve been able to procure if I cried to my parents, but if I had to pay for something like this, I might as well use that money to destroy the event in its entirety instead. Besides, there was the possibility that we’d have to raise even more money from here on.

With the issue of money finally becoming more realistic, the others in the student council looked at each other. And the one in that group with the most reluctant face was Isshiki. Good grief, this girl was really…

“The current plans aren’t very realistic. Even if we made it happen, only a part of it would work out. And if you consider all the advertising that we did, then the event itself would be lackluster in comparison. It’d be a very disappointing event.”

“Aah, that might be true…”

Isshiki spoke with a sigh as if she had imagined the sight of that disappointing event.

They tried to make it sound cool by calling it “The Music Connecting Now”, but that’s, like, totally out of the question already if the artists coming were limited only to an hour to perform on stage as an ensemble… What exactly was getting connected here…?

“The first thing I want to confirm is regarding that. That is, whether that’s a good thing or not. I want to know what the student council feels about it. By the way, I don’t care for either. In the first place, I’m nothing more than a helper. I’ll do only what I’m told after all.”

When I asked, Isshiki moaned as she crossed her arms and began to speak in contemplation.

“Well, it most certainly isn’t a gooood thing. I mean, we might as well not do it if it’s going to be a shabby event or something. But there’s like no way we can stop now or anything, you knooow. And that’s why I think there’s a part of it that we can’t do anything about.”

In response to her mushy speaking and the lack of motivation in the words she uttered, Yukinoshita pressed against her temples as if she was getting a headache.

“Isshiki-san…”

“N-Now now…”

When Yuigahama was smoothing it over, Isshiki joltingly corrected her words.

“I-I’ll do it! I’ll do it properly!”

Ummmph, it was kind of like she was coerced into it, but whatever.

“So now we know how Isshiki feels about it… So how do you feel about it as the student council?”

“Eh? Ah, let’s seeeee… I wonder?”

Isshiki sent a reserved glance to the other members. When she did, the vice president along with the other members looked at each other and he gradually opened his mouth.

“Well, we all are.”

“Yes, if we’re going to do it properly, then that would be fine…”

The other members responded with nods and after confirming that, Isshiki showed me an ambiguous smile that wandered between embarrassed or problematic.

“…Something like that.”

As expected, the distance between Isshiki and the others was still awkward.

Considering Isshiki’s actual communicative ability (cheekiness), it seemed like it could easily get people to open up to her, but the title of presidency and the lack of confidence associated with it might have been connected to her hesitation.

But that was a problem that I couldn’t do anything about. But if a successful experience here was connected to her confidence as the president, this situation just might change again.

“Okay. Now, as for what we should do, the first thing is to consider the things obstructing us… Now then, here’s a proooblem for you. What could that be?”

“Ha?”

Isshiki’s admirable attitude from earlier went off somewhere and she was looking at me as if I was a complete idiot. Damn it, I even went through the trouble of getting everyone excited and posing it like a quiz… Whatever, just answer it, jeez. Or so I thought until Yukinoshita answered before Isshiki had the chance to.

“The structure of the current conference. That would be a consistent parliamentary system.”

When I looked, Yukinoshita was slightly raising her hand for some reason. Was it because I turned it into a quiz that her desire not to lose was agitated, perhaps?  Waiting for my answer, Yukinoshita looked at me with slightly excited eyes.

“Correct…”

When I answered, Yukinoshita did a fist pump under the table. Mmm, I wanted Isshiki to answer it though… Well, whatever, I’ll give her 80,000 points for the correct answer (Hachiman points only)2.

“Well, it’s as Yukinoshita said. In those conferences, we would listen to everybody’s opinions and on top of that, we would examine them in detail. Because of that, there was no end to it. There wasn’t a person who had the right to call the final decision on things.”

When I spoke, Yuigahama tilted her head.

“Isn’t that what the other president is doing?”

“At the moment, Tamanawa’s only role right now was leading the conference as well as putting things together. Although he’s gathering everyone’s opinions, he doesn’t make the call to decide things.”

Outwardly, the conferences were active. There weren’t that much people so even if you presented your opinion, it wouldn’t be turned down. That’s why the finer details of the spectrum, the unimportant details were easily decided. But there was no clear sight of the innards at all.

To hold a conference that had no individual who held the right to decide was meaningless. Even if we came up with a final conclusion, there wasn’t an individual who could decide on it.

It’s because everyone was on equal footing that a final ruling couldn’t be passed down.

Tentatively, the people standing at the top were Tamanawa of the Kaihin Sogo side and Isshiki of the Sobu High side. They’re there, yet these two would go “ummm, I wonder about that~?” and wouldn’t settle on what was decided.

As she was listening, Isshiki let out a short sigh as if something came to mind.

“…I guess I might’ve not been the best choice after all, huh?”

Isshiki dropped her head and I told her.

“It’s not like it’s your fault or anything.”

“Senpai…”

Isshiki raised her head and looked at me with moist eyes. That’s why I nodded in response and continued my words.

“The one at fault is the one who pushed the presidency onto you obviously.”

“Um, that’s senpai though…”

Isshiki answered with an astonished expression. Well, it’s that. “I’m not the one at fault, society is” was an important mindset to have too, you know?

“Anyway, speaking of now in particular, the problem is that everyone’s being considerate of each other and there isn’t a clear hierarchical relationship.”

Properly speaking, the very first thing that should’ve been determined was who had the right to pass down decisions at the very end before considering things like win-win relationships, equal footing discussions, or a group with no top or bottom structure. Because it wasn’t decided at the very beginning, things turning out the way it did was inevitable.

“…That’s why we eliminate that pretentious friendliness and have a proper conference. The kind of conference that draws a fine line between the winner and loser where we refute, oppose, and antagonize each other.”

When I said that, the vice president made a difficult face.

“Oppose, huh…? So you’re saying to starting presenting dissenting opinions from here on?”

“Yeah, just keep shooting ideas out and completely reject them. I definitely don’t want to do a fundraiser too.”

“So that’s the reason…”

Yuigahama was astounded, but the things I didn’t like were the things I didn’t like.  Besides, having to accept a sham that was decided by that kind of conference was something, now, that I didn’t like.

But this was just my side of the story. I should entrust the remaining conclusion to the others.

“Isshiki, that’s all for my suggestion. As the student council, what are you going to do?”

“Eh, I have to decide? Is it really okay for me to…?”

When I suddenly shifted the conversation to her, Isshiki looked around restlessly. Her gaze was directed at the other student council members.

“…W-What would be good, I wooonder?”

The vice president reacted to that question.

“I… feel it’d be better to not cause any trouble. I think suggesting a counter-proposal considering the timing might be a bit difficult, not to mention we never did object to it in the first place, and I’m not sure what to think of rumors spreading of us getting into a dispute about that…”

This vice president was a man of common sense. I could call him a conservative too. Either way, I was grateful that this kind of person was Isshiki’s support.

“I guess soooo.”

After Isshiki said that, she groaned and thought for a moment. But Isshiki suddenly lifted her face and said to the vice president with a smile.

“But we’re going to do it.”

“Eh?”

The student council president, Isshiki Iroha, faced the confused vice president and declared.

“Personally, I’m not so sure I’d like it being a shabby event, you knoooow.”

Those words caused Yukinoshita to press against her temple while Yuigahama made a wry smile. However, I ended up impressed. I wasn’t sure what her actual intentions were, but for her to spit out a super selfish reason at this point in time made me realize she might’ve been a big shot after all.

If we reached a conclusion, then preparing a counter-proposal was necessary. In the conference, what made us inferior to Kaihin Sogo High was the amount of words that we spoke, essentially the core of which that formed our opinions. That’s why we needed to prepare, otherwise, we wouldn’t be able to exchange blows with them.

“Well, why don’t we think about what we should do?”

I stood before the whiteboard of the student council room and noisily wrote down “To Do”. These words were lacking in motivation if I say so myself. After that, a first year girl in glasses who was watching let out a small “ah” and stood up to take my place to write on the board. Apparently this girl was the secretary.

Once I was in my seat again, Isshiki looked at me worriedly with a groan.

“Even if you say that, I don’t really have anything I want to doooo.”

“…I guess so. Me neither.”

When I replied, Isshiki made an astounded sigh.

“Well, that’s no gooood…”

“That’s fine. If we’re just doing what we want to do, that’s no different from horsing around. It’s because you’re doing the things you don’t want to do and that are painful that they call it work.”

When I said that, sitting across from me was Yukinoshita tapping on her temple with her fingers.

“…Putting aside your concept of labor, what you’re saying is certainly accurate. The current plans aren’t at all in the interests of the visiting guests.”

“Ah, I see…”

Isshiki nodded. That’s right. The plan that Tamanawa and his group cooked up were simply focused on what they wanted to do and it didn’t consider the targeted users. Sure, there were plenty of elderly people who liked music. But there were also a lot of people who didn’t have much interest in it as well. Besides, wouldn’t it be boring to the kindergartners? Obviously, this was contingent on what songs and plays were chosen, but they clearly weren’t thinking of those details at all. They were proclaiming things like the customer side, but it was the complete opposite.

The objective of the event was mistaken. Because in the first place, what we wanted to do was completely irrelevant.

It looked like Isshiki understood all of that. But that was where the conversation halted.

“…But what exactly should we doooo?”

When she asked, I thought for a little.

“There’s plenty of ways to move the work along, but… Well, it’s that. The main idea of working is in how much you don’t work.”

“That sounds totally contradictory …”

On the side was Yuigahama who looked at me with apathetic eyes. How rude…

“It’s not a contradiction. If I have to work even though I don’t want to, that’s when I’ll actually think about what to do. If I just skip or rest, it’ll just make things more of a pain. In that case, it becomes a problem of how I would go about getting things done efficiently.”

“Even though your beginning points are completely nonsensical, the conclusion feels somehow on the mark…”

Yukinoshita was pressing against her temple looking like she had a headache.

Of course my conclusion was on the mark. The source was from the history of mankind.

Technological advancements were always born from the feelings of things being a pain and the desire of not wanting to work. In other words, I, who didn’t want to work since it was too much of a pain, could be said to be part of that advanced mankind. Especially recently, I’ve been thinking that I was a real bothersome guy, particularly, today.

Well, it didn’t matter about me right now. Right there, there was something I had to tell Isshiki.

“When you’re thinking about these kinds of things, identifying problems at the beginning is a pain. Instead, you just need to counter with problems that already exist.”

I took out Tamanawa’s created resume from my bag as I spoke.

“And speaking of now, we have this plan which we can find a lot of faults with. Don’t worry. It’s hard to think of a lot of bad things to say about regarding yourself, but it’s easy when it comes to badmouthing other people. And this happens to be your specialty Isshiki. Give it your best shot.”

“Senpai, just what do you take me fooor…?”

“Yeah, yeah. Just try it for a bit with everyone.”

I then passed down the task to Isshiki who was mumbling complaints and the other student council members. After that, I exchanged brief looks with Yukinoshita and Yuigahama and we decided to watch over Isshiki and the others quietly.

If the student council members saw that we were silent and not bringing up any of the problems, then they would earnestly start tackling the issue themselves. It’s not like it was a problem with a lack of motivation or anything.

Upon finding a topic that would trigger a conversation, the silence in the student council room gradually filled with discussion and a steady stream of problematic points regarding the plan were brought up. Occasionally, Isshiki and the others would even show smiles to each other in between.

Umu, as expected, people grew closer when it came to insulting others.

When I thought it was about time they identified enough problems, I spoke up.

“What’s left is just to construct a plan by working backwards from here.”

I could hear a small whisper saying “so that’s how it is”. When I looked, Yukinoshita was folding her arms.

“…If you’re taking it in that direction, then it looks like we can come up with a plan then. Ultimately though, the budget, time, and people are still problems.”

“Then that just means we’ll have to think of things that won’t take up money and time.”

“But if we don’t use any money, won’t it just turn out shabby anyway, hmmm? I feel like that’s tooootally out of the question too or something.”

Isshiki spoke in dissatisfaction and Yuigahama pounded her hands.

“Oh I know, that thing! How about a homemade feeling kind of thing in a family-oriented way!? Or something.”

“I think that’s something up to interpretation by those on the receiving end and not those on the giving end…”

Yukinoshita listened to her and said those very logical words.

But Yuigahama also had a point.

In summary, what was needed was the conversion of ideas.

It wasn’t something that would be fine if you threw money at it. Movies that sold itself on its production cost usually crashed and burned. Especially live action movies of anime. No one’s asking for those, damn it.

Just how could we replace the negative images of incompleteness, lack of uniformity, and negligence with positive images like a homemade feeling and simplicity? Thinking of those things was necessary.

Aah, maybe it’s something like that. Maybe it’s something like a slightly adult video done by an amateur or something… It’s because it wasn’t done by a professional that you could enjoy it. Things like its crudeness or its naturalness or its realism or even that feeling where it was within your reach. No, in fact, maybe even paradoxical literacy elements present in everyday life like extraordinariness, secrecy, and the acting that wasn’t really acting at all or something… Phew. Yeah, I got the gist of it.

“It must be that. The elementary students and also the nursery. We’ll have those kids do some things for us. The cheapness of their labor along with that feeling of amateurism can be used as weapons.”

“…I see. You thought of something good.”

Yukinoshita was looking at me with incredibly glistening eyes. It’s just that the source of my idea was a little questionable, so it was hard to meet her eyes back. My answering voice felt like it was going to sound high-pitched too.

“Eh, ah, yeah, right. I mean, you see it in CMs right? Like, when they have trouble, they show animals and stuff, you know?”

But since Yukinoshita was concentrating on putting her thoughts in order, she wasn’t looking my way anymore.

“Certainly, if we show a play done by the children, no one would complain. It seems like it’d go well with the elders as well. That means it’ll all be dependent on what we do.”

Yukinoshita looked at Isshiki and the other student council members as she spoke.

“Aah, yes. Maybe something like a soooong…?”

“Or a play…”

Isshiki and the secretary-chan with braids answered.

“If it’s a song, then that overlaps with music…”

The vice president said that and followed along.

With this, the matter was mostly settled. I stood up and wrote “Play” on the board.

“Then, a play it is. Nurseries tend to do have Parent’s Day, don’t they? They might have things like props and costumes there.”

When I said that, Yukinoshita nodded.

“So now the remaining problem is time for practice.”

“Remembering lines sounds hard…”

Even though Yuigahama wasn’t going to appear in the play, she let out miserable voice. I guess Yuigahama’s not very good at memorization huh… Still, this play wasn’t a test. We’re allowed to at least skimp on some things.

“…How about we split the groups into actors on stage and actors who read the lines?”

“Do you mean like having voice actors?”

“Yeah, that way you don’t have to remember anything.”

“Wow, amazing. As usual, you’re really something when it comes to thinking of ways to cut corners.”

I’m extremely and humbly delighted for your praise… Now, let’s stop saying those things with such a nice smile, okay?

Well, in reality, voice actors really did have it rough and I heard they were actually trying really hard. We had to focus on practice and rehearsal, but considering it’s on the level of a schools festival here, this kind of thinking worked too.

With this, we had a rough idea of the direction to head in. As long we took note of the how long things would take, we should be able to get it done.

“So, that’s how it’s going to be…”

Isshiki turned around to the other student council members with a lack of confidence. When she did, the vice president and the other members returned a nod. Seeing that, Isshiki showed a smile.

Yuigahama happily talked to Isshiki.

“Since you guys went through the trouble of thinking it up, it’d be nice if you can do it!”

“I suppose soooo. Well, it’d be nice if we can.”

“So we just need to split the time so we can hold our play and their concert at the same time. So why not trying suggesting that at the conference today?”

When I said that, Yuigahama and Isshiki both looked at me with their heads tilted. What’s with you two and that stupid childish reaction…?

“…Is that, really possible?”

“No, I don’t have a clue. Well, even if we do it together, then there’re probably a few things that can be done.”

“Haa, I see…”

Isshiki looked either convinced or not as she nodded with a distracted expression.

Something liked by everyone didn’t exist. Therefore, there were probably people who didn’t like Tamanawa and the others’ plan. For those people, we could cater to their tastes and we would have a higher total amount of satisfied visitors. Obviously there would be people dissatisfied by what we would do, but Tamanawa’s plan might catch their fancy instead.

By opposing them, we were able to draw out a scheme like this.

“Okay, as for the rest, try your best to work out the details so you can present it until the conference.”

I said that and stood up from my seat.

“Yes, er, eh!? Where are you going!? Are you saying I should be the one doing the presentation!?”

Isshiki quickly shot up her head and looked at me twice. When she did, Yukinoshita who stood up right after me brushed the hems of her skirt and placed her hand on her chin.

“The presentation is something the student council should be doing after all. We’re here only to help.”

When Yukinoshita spoke, Yuigahama placed her hand on her worn coat and spoke as she smiled.

“Ah, but, see. If you have trouble at the conference, Hikki and Yukinon will help you out!”

“You’re not going to help, huh…? Well, Isshiki. Try your best. I’ll buy the snacks for today.”

I said that and left the student council room.

There was still some time left before the meeting. We decided to kill some time by buying things for the conference at the convenient store and headed for the entrance.

“I hope the conference goes well.”

Yuigahama spoke as she adjusted her muffler.

“Well, it should be fine. Even if it doesn’t get through to them, we’ll make sure it does. I want this to end already.”

I said so casually, but Yuigahama stopped in her tracks. When I turned around, Yuigahama was looking at me with serious eyes.

“…Does that mean you’re going to do something, Hikki?”

Behind Yuigahama was Yukinoshita who was also standing still. I couldn’t see what emotions were filled in those slightly concealed eyes of hers.

“…Well, I’ll think of something when the time comes. Honestly, we won’t know unless we try.”

I answered as sincerely as I could within the scope of what was possible for my current self. Even so, it wasn’t like I had a lot of ways to do things at my disposal. Yuigahama looked like she understood that as well as she caressed her bun hair and while still looking down, she spoke.

“Hikki… Isn’t that something you don’t like?”

“Even there are things I don’t like.”

“Then…”

As she said that, Yuigahama lifted her head. Before hearing the rest of her words any further, I voiced my answer.

“…What I don’t like is giving in to that superficial discussion. It’s something I hate the most.”

As I said that, I looked away and scratched my head. When it came to mind how I was reveling in that kind of superficiality before, I thought I had the gall to be saying something like that.

Even so, I couldn’t be content with accepting that kind of sham anymore.

A momentary silence passed by.

And then, a faint sigh could be heard. When I adjusted my sight back, ahead was Yukinoshita expressing a smile.

“You should do as you like.”

Her voice was softer than usual and her flowing words were straight to the point.

“…Uh huh, got it.”

Even though Yuigahama didn’t look convinced somehow, she still nodded in silence.

It probably wasn’t like they understood everything. Or possibly, they might’ve just given up instead.

My words twisted inside in my mouth and without uttering them, I nodded back.

We didn’t say anything more between the three of us as we went outside.

The setting sun that crawled out onto the campus encompassed by the winter sea winds was just slightly warm.

× × ×

The conference for the Christmas collaborative event that started on schedule was cooling down from its craze as time ticked by.

The student council president of Kaihin Sogo High, Tamanawa, made a stumped smile and let out a sigh.

And the student council president of Sobu High, Isshiki Iroha, clicked her tongue that only I, who was sitting nearby, could hear as she was smiling.

The discussion between these two had been running in parallel since a while ago.

“Yeah, I feel that way of thinking could work, but I think there’s some meaning behind both schools doing it together. If we do things separately, the SYNERGY effect would disappear and it’d be a DOUBLE RISK, don’t you think?”

“Maaaybe, but personally, I’m thinking I want to totally do this toooo, you knooow? Wouldn’t it be toootally beneficial if there were two things to watch?”

I wasn’t sure how many times I’ve listened to this exact exchange.

Tamanawa would endlessly go on with his katakana lingo while Isshiki would adjust the direction of her head and the angle of her face and during that, she would talk back sweetly and act adorably flirtatious.

This scene continued ever since the opening of the conference.

When the conference began, Tamanawa started off first by proposing a share of the supplementary budget. In response to that, Isshiki started off with “like, I’ve been thinking just a tiny bit, buuut” and launched a kind of counter punch by presenting our plan of doing a play. Still, the enemy wasn’t to be underestimated as they exhibited the universal compromise of inserting the play during the intermission of the current plan. Of course, Isshiki used the reason that the issue of money wasn’t solved at all and suggested to reduce the workload by breaking the event into two parts with the music and the play.

So things were developing as I had expected. In a way, Yukinoshita, Yuigahama, and I were relieved by seeing this pre-established harmony as we were watching over them attentively.

But now that we were at this point, the conference suddenly stagnated. And just like earlier, Isshiki and Tamanawa were bouncing back and forth between each other.

Next to me, Yukinoshita let out a sigh. What a coincidence, I was feeling the same way. And then, she whispered to me in a way that wouldn’t disrupt the conference.

“I wonder if Isshiki-san’s okay… I could hear her clicking her tongue earlier…”

“Who knows? It looks like she’s trying a lot of things, but…”

“I understand how she feels quite well…”

Yukinoshita spoke in exhaustion and let out another sigh.

Both Yukinoshita and I left the presentation to Isshiki and preferred to support Isshiki when necessary, but seeing how the discussion wasn’t heading anywhere, we couldn’t really interject. When I thought about what to do, Yuigahama sitting to my right nudged my shoulders.

“Hikki, why are they arguing over this?”

“…What would you think if you were suddenly told to do things separately in two parts when you thought you were going to do things together?”

Yuigahama moaned as she thought and then spoke.

“It’d give off kind of a bad feeling…”

“A division and a breakdown… True, it would definitely leave a bad impression.”

Yukinoshita nodded her head. Well, that’s probably what Tamanawa was concerned about.

I glanced at Tamanawa to confirm that. When I did, Tamanawa noisily typed away on the keyboard of his Macbook Air in exaggeration. He then nodded and spoke.

“I think that play would be a very good idea. That’s why if we start back at the CONCEPT, then if we went in the direction of a COLLABORATION of the music and the play as one, then that’s another way of thinking about it.”

He presented another universal compromise. Isshiki smiled with a “fufu” to that.

“Well, suuure, it’ll be one. But that’s nooot what I’m thinking about, you knoow? And also, there’s still the problem with the budget, riiight? If we did that, in the end, we won’t be able to do anything anyway or something.”

After she said that, Isshiki expressed an embarrassed laugh and stuck out her tongue. However, her eyes weren’t laughing in the least.

“Then we should all think about that together. That’s the reason for the conference after all.”

Tamanawa replied with something he once said at some point before. At this rate, we’d find ourselves in an infinite loop

After that, at the corner of my eyes, an unexpected individual had stood up. It was our vice president.

“Um, do you mind if I ask you something? What’s your reason for being opposed to breaking it into two parts?”

“Hmm, it’s not that I’m in opposition to it. I just think if we shared a VISION, then we could make the event feel more unifying. Even if we think of the IMAGE strategy points, I think it’d be better to avoid veering off from the general framework of this collaborative EVENT.”

Since an objection stemmed from an unexpected source, Tamanawa thought for a little and continued.

“This is just a FLASH IDEA, but if we go with a two part PROGRAM, we can create 2 GROUPS by mixing the two high schools together. Maybe a SOLUTION like that could work too…”

“But we totally won’t make it in time, don’t you think? We’ve already done our preparations here toooo.”

Isshiki supported the vice president. They didn’t prepare anything at all, but she probably realized that the situation wouldn’t move forward if she didn’t say this.

When she did, a single hand from the student council of Kaihin Sogo High was raised. Seeing that Tamanawa was under fire, that person came to his aid.

“If it’s a problem with time, instead of making up a new plan now, wouldn’t it be more efficient if we cooperated and limited things to one as originally planned? And the COST PERFORMANCE would be pretty good, particularly how expenses are efficiently dealt with.”

And then the argument regressed.

As I did the minutes of those exchanges, I was suddenly taken in by a strange feeling of discomfort.

Tamanawa wasn’t opposed to the entire plan of breaking things into two parts. Yet he was adamant in doing things together. What was the reason for that? I opened my mouth in order to find the real meaning behind this feeling of discomfort.

“…Is is even necessary for us to do this together?”

“Well, by working together, we’ll be able to produce a COLLECTIVE SYNERGY and we can carry out a big EVENT–”

“What synergy? Besides, you’re saying you want a big event, but at this rate, it’s not going to amount to anything worthwhile. Why are you so fixated on the idea?”

When I noticed, I was questioning him critically. In the same way towards me, there were whispers.

The greatest mistake of this conference was the nonexistence of rejection. At the very beginning, there was no rejection. That’s why even if something was wrong, no one could correct it.

I also wasn’t able to reject anything. Just maybe, this way of creating things existed too. That’s what I had thought.

They were acting reserved with each other. They were being considerate with each other. By saying that, lies were being exchanged.

However, that wasn’t it. By all means, getting rejected wasn’t a bad thing at all.

There were things you could understand for the first time once you saw that you were wrong. Complete affirmation of worthless things with no substance was the harshest form of denial. And that was something that would probably be rejected too.

Tamanawa spoke rapidly as if he was in a fluster.

“Doing otherwise will stray from the original intent of the planning. Also, we arrived at a CONCENSUS on the matter and since we all coincided on a GRAND DESIGN…”

True, we did have a consensus and we also came up with a grand design together.

By acting ignorant for the sake of an answer that could convince everyone, everyone was forced to put up with it, the pain was pushed on to everyone and this caused everyone to inhibit themselves.

It was already decided. Those who objected were heretics. By implicitly coercing them with those thoughts, they forcefully gained approval.

And the moment everything collapsed on itself, they would say this: That everyone had decided on it. They would divide the responsibility between each other and lighten the load on their hearts, pushing the blame onto a nameless individual. And at the very end, because “everyone” had decided on it, they would coerce each other into accomplices. Yeah, it was exactly like a hollow box somewhere.

That’s why I needed to reject it. Although I couldn’t say that I was just at all. But it was because I was able to reject that I realized where I was wrong. In that case, there was no way I could accept this conclusion. I knew what I did wrong. But the world was much more wrong.

I stared at Tamanawa. Then the corners of my mouth distorted.

“…Wrong. You’re being arrogant thinking that you can do it. That’s why you couldn’t accept it even when you’re wrong. You probably wanted to cover up your mistakes. And to do that, you try to relieve yourself by toying with the plan, toying around with ideas, and try to get everyone to commit on them. After all, you’ll feel a lot better when you have someone you can blame for your mistakes.”

Unintentionally, my voice was mixed with self-deprecation as if I was looking at someone just a while ago.

A gentle space with no rejection was probably like a dream. The superficial arguments remained in the minutes while only the conference in name continued. That way, you could fool yourself.

But that was a sham.

It was sudden. My voice swelled. The ripples that were small, however, slow reverberated. The vortex of my voice entrapped the area around me and stares lacking in warmth were directed at me.

“I’d say it’s more of a problem with our COMMUNICATION coming to an impasse.”

“Let’s set aside some time to COOLDOWN to recollect ourselves and we can start up the discussion aga–”

There was a cold stickiness in the voice coming from the Kaihin Sogo side. However, their attitudes didn’t change even until the very end. They tried to put out feelers to reconcile the rejection of their side and tried to find out what was wrong.

But there was a voice that destroyed that.

“If you’re looking to play a game of pretend, can you do that somewhere else?”

The voice wasn’t loud in the least, yet just those words caused the place to submerge in silence.

The owner of the voice continued further.

“All I have been hearing is empty drivel, but is it really that fun abusing words you just picked up and pretending to hold a conference?”

There wasn’t a single person other than Yukinoshita Yukino who had opened their mouth. Her provocative voice turned into something gradual.

“You act like you’re holding a discussion with vague ideas and act like you understand, yet you don’t accomplish a thing. You can’t move forward like that… You won’t create anything, you won’t be able to gain anything, and you won’t be able to give anything… That’s nothing but a sham.”

When I casually looked to the side, Yukinoshita was gripping her fist and looking down.

But when she raised her head, she had a frigid expression with strong eyes looking forward.

“Can you stop wasting any more of our time?”

It was like the Training Room forgot what sound was. Everyone was taken aback by Yukinoshita’s intensity and lost their words. A vacuum was born that enveloped the arguments that endlessly continued in a circle.

“Ummm, maybe it might be too hard to force ourselves to work together. So why don’t we just make the event two times more fun instead? We should be able to show off how unique our schools are, too.”

Yuigahama diligently tried to fill in the gap with her brightness. She then shot the conversation towards a sitting individual who was still dumbfounded.

“Right, Iroha-chan?”

“Ah, yes. I-I think that would be good…”

And then, Yuigahama slightly shot her glance forward. Ahead was Orimoto Kaori.

“H-How is it? Good?”

“Eh, ah, sure… Sounds, good?”

Orimoto answered reflexively to the question she was suddenly asked. She didn’t sound very confident with her answer and she faced the people beside her. When she did, they nodded back.

When the conference that had no individuals with objections inclined towards that one affirmation, it came to an end like an avalanche.

But finally, the long, long conference came to a full stop.

× × ×

With the conference over, the Training Room was returning back to its liveliness. Sobu High’s student council reached a conclusion in the conference and we could finally get started on the preparations for the event. On top of the desk were books and material plastered all over and we were meeting about what to do for the play.

As I looked at those with a sidelong glance, Isshiki was upset with both Yukinoshita and I where the three of us were still standing up. Yuigahama was watching us with a wry smile.

“Why did you two go and blurt out stuff like that, hmmm? The mood’s just the worst, you knooow? Didn’t you think we could lose this event, hmmm?”

Isshiki was crossing her arms in front of the white board. Her face with her swollen cheeks was viciously cute.

“I don’t believe I said anything wrong.”

Yukinoshita averted her face as if she was sulking. Seeing that, leaking from Isshiki’s mouth was her mood. It looked like she was upset.

“I mean, you might be in the right, but you have to pay attention to the mood and other things, you know?”

When Isshiki said that, Yukinoshita averted her face again or so I thought because for some reason she was looking at me.

“You’re on a fool’s errand if you’re expecting that man to ever read the mood. All he does is read in the clubroom.”

“Sorry to break the news, but as an avid reader, I can read between the lines quite well. Besides, isn’t she upset with you?”

When I said that, Yukinoshita had a doubtful head tilt.

“Isshiki-san just acknowledged I was right, so why would she be?”

“Ahh, yeah, that’s what she’s upset at you for. Listen to what I’m saying.”

When I replied back to her, Isshiki tapped on the white board.

“Ummm, are you two listening to meee? I’m saying it to the both of you, you knooow?”

“O-Okay, okay, let’s move on since everything went all nice and dandy.”

Watching on the side was Yuigahama who mediated the situation and Isshiki let out a sigh and backed off. Yuigahama followed up further after Isshiki who was slightly pouting.

“We didn’t lose the event, so we should be happy with that. Right?”

“…Haa, well, it’s not like that’d be a big deal or anything. Besides, well… I feel a lot better anyway.”

As the contradicting individual that I was, I was saying something like how she wasn’t being very honest at all. Still, to think that Isshiki who was supposed to not have any motivation for student council related activities would be concerned about the existence of the event.

That Isshiki was perplexed as she groaned.

“But this and that are two different things, you knoow? It’s super hard to do things now.”

“Ahh, well, sorry about that.”

In regards to that, normally speaking, I was in the wrong, so I apologized obediently. To this day, Isshiki and I were the ones who negotiated directly with Tamanawa, but from this incident, I doubt he was in the mood to talk with me. That being the case, Isshiki was forced to take on the responsibility of various things on my end.

“True, it would be a problem if we can’t coordinate with each other… Even if we’re doing different things, we still share the general framework. Maybe it might be a tad difficult to work together after all…”

Yukinoshita placed her hand on her chin as she thought and Yuigahama raised her hand.

“Iroha-chan and I can follow up on communication related stuff.”

“Ehhh, me toooo?”

“Of course. You’re the representative here..”

Isshiki said so unpleasantly and Yukinoshita quickly chided her.

“Y-Yes…! But like, it was Yukinoshita-senpai’s fault…”

With Yukinoshita glaring at her, Isshiki coughed and brushed it off. She then quietly whispered into my ear.

“Senpai, Yukinoshita-senpai’s really scary…”

No, that’s actually her still being nice, but I couldn’t say it. I mean, she’s like totally glaring daggers at Isshiki right now too. The Yukinon EARS could hear everything…

“Isshiki-san, can we confirm the allotment of the time and budget with the other side? Also, I want to calculate the exact expenses we have presently as well.”

“Ah, then, shall we do it with the secretary?”

When Isshiki spoke, the two accompanied each other and headed for where the other officers were.

At the moment, I had nothing else to do so I pulled a seat nearby and fell back onto the chair and was looking at the ceiling. There wasn’t a single person who approached me in the area and this empty void of time flowed by.

Sometimes I felt stares. I was supposed to have been used to the kinds of stares that looked at something odd and the whispering voices, but since it was a long time since I was conscious of it, it felt strangely nostalgic. And that feeling was the same towards Yukinoshita.

“Hikigaya.”

As I was sitting, Hiratsuka-sensei was looking down on me from above. Just how long had she been there?

“You came by?”

“I came by to check on things a little halfway into the meeting.”

Hiratsuka-sensei didn’t sit seemingly not planning to stay long. I felt uncomfortable being the only one sitting so I stood up. When our faces got closer, Hiratsuka-sensei looked at me fixedly and made a bitter laugh.

“Looks like you were quite obtrusive again, huh?”

Aah, she was here that time too, huh… I got bashful from having that stunt seen since it was a little embarrassing and Hiratsuka-sensei inspected the interior of the Training Room. And what she was looking at was Yukinoshita.

“I didn’t think she would do something like that… I’m a little surprised.”

“Well, I suppose so…”

I gave a meaningless response. Even I was convinced that what Yukinoshita said that time was surprising. But I felt like I couldn’t describe it well in words. Even so, Hiratsuka-sensei nodded in response.

“If you’re not hurt together, then perhaps it wouldn’t be painful at all… The beauty of flaws, huh?”

“Come again?”

I questioned her, not understanding the mutter she let out. When I did, Hiratsuka-sensei talked without looking at me.

“You can be hurt, you can be warped… you can also be twisted. However, the beauty of those is in the eye of the beholder… And that’s what makes it valuable… I don’t dislike that at all.”

She then turned around to me. And her eyes were seemingly sorrowful.

“But you feel fear simultaneously. You start thinking if that’s for the best. They say the happiness of not being understood by others is an enclosed happiness.”

“Isn’t that kind of bad?”

When I asked, Hiratsuka-sensei slowly shook her head. Her long, glossy black hair gently flowed back and forth.

“I wonder… That’s something that you can only check with the teachers during semester exams. That’s why I’ll keep asking you. So you should continue thinking about it as well.”

She parted with those words and left the Training Room. As I watched her off from behind, I dug around for the words I had to respond with.

What I wished for probably wasn’t a relationship that was conventional in society. It was probably something where you dragged down the hand you took along with you to the sea bed. It was a terribly self-centered sentiment.

There was no need to say it. From here on as well, I’ll continue to ask, answer, and think for a long time.

× × ×

With the long day over, I was on my way home. I lethargically pedaled my way home from the community center.

When I made it to the neighborhood of my house, the sound of pedaling came from behind me. The hell? Tch, talk about annoying, I’m busy biking you know. As I thought that, I gave way to the street and took the sidewalk. Even so, the pedaling didn’t stop.

I turned around, getting sick and tired of it.

When I did, Orimoto was following right behind me on her bike. When she looked at my face, she snickered.

“Oh, ignoring me? Hilarious.”

“…Right. No, it’s not that hilarious.”

If I thought about it normally, it should’ve been obvious given that we went to the same middle school, but Orimoto and my house weren’t all that far apart. If we headed in the same direction from the same place at the same time, you didn’t have to be Takeshi-kun the Arithmetic3 to know there was the possibility that we would bump into each other.

Orimoto’s bike lined up with mine.

“So you were still living in this area.”

“Well, it’s my actual house after all…”

“Aaah, I guess so. It’s because we, like, never meet in the area you see.”

Well, it’s because I really didn’t want to meet anyone that I barely leave the house… And speaking of rankings of things I didn’t want to meet, Orimoto was in a rather high position on the list, but we could do with not having to mention that.

“Ah, could you hold on a teensy bit?”

Orimoto placed her bike in front of the vending machine as she said that. As for the rankings of things I didn’t want to wait for, Orimoto was high on there too, but once I was told to, then I had no choice but to do so. Still straddling my bike, I waited patiently. As I did, Orimoto was buying drinks from the vending machine.

“Here, my treat.”

Orimoto spoke and held out a warm can of tea. What’s this? It wasn’t MAX Coffee? But complaining about something given to you was out of the question. I took it obediently.

After that, Orimoto then raised up the other can she bought.

“Yaaaay!”

“Y-Yeah…”

We hit our cans together seemingly wanting to do a toast. Orimoto then opened her can and talked to me as she drank from it.

“Hikigaya, you sure have changed. Like back then, I thought you were super boring too.”

“T-That so?”

…U-Uh huuuuh. W-Was that how people saw me? Wasn’t that information like totally not needed?

In fact, the word “changed” caught my attention. Did I really change all that much from how I was in middle school? I probably did. I was taller and the number of English words I could remember increased. Also, I wasn’t profusely sweating when I was talking with Orimoto. There were plenty of other different things, but it might’ve been more appropriate to call that starting over from the beginning than actually changing.

“But to think someone’s boring might’ve been a problem with the person who thought so, huh?”

Orimoto said so with a tedious looking face. She then put the tea can to her mouth, gulped it down, and let out a sigh.

“But, I guess dating Hikigaya is still totally out of the question.”

“No, it’s not like I asked now or anything…”

I did ask a long time ago, yes, a long time ago. And since it was a long time ago, forget about it, please.

“Then again, what’s the deal all of a sudden?”

“Like today, didn’t you say something out of nowhere? Normally if your boyfriend was like that, you totally wouldn’t be able to stand it, you know. Totally don’t get what you meant either.”

When I asked, Orimoto spoke as she cackled seemingly laughing while reminiscing of something. But she suddenly withdrew her laugh and looked down the road. In the direction she was looking was where our middle school was supposed to be.

“But as a friend, it might work out. You’re hilarious after all… Well, whatever though.”

When she said that, Orimoto threw the can of tea in the trash and straddled her bike.

“But like, thanks to Hikigaya and that girl, our side is totally getting into it. Our president’s like really motivated now. Like we’ll totally win and all.”

“Well, it’s not really a match though…”

When I said so, Orimoto tilted her head.

“Really? Well, whatever. Seeee you.”

“Yeah. Ah, thanks for the tea.”

Orimoto lightly raised her hand to my gratitude and she started pedaling on her bike. I drank the remaining tea in one gulp and threw the empty can into the trash. When I did, a little further away, the sound of screeching breaks of a bike could be heard.

“Hey.”

“Ah?”

When I looked in the direction which I was called from, Orimoto was still on her bike and only her head was facing my way.

“The next class reunion, why don’t you come Hikigaya?”

“I won’t. Definitely.”

“I thought so, hilarious.”

“No, no it’s not.”

When I said that, Orimoto chuckled and biked away. I didn’t watch her distant back as I faced in the opposite direction and pedaled.

× × ×

The morning after the night since that meeting, the Training Room of the community center was wrapped in a busy atmosphere. Although we were settled on doing a play, we weren’t decided on what kind of play we would do.

But after Isshiki’s mysterious instruction of “for now, an angel should appear riiight?”, we were now in rapid progress of creating angel costumes. An angel really was going to appear huh… On second thought, didn’t that mean an appearing character died?

And then there were the elementary school students who were thought of as complete nuisances and luggage just the other day, but now they were our strong allies of production. They were completely a part of our fighting force. As I expected, elementary students were the best!

Rumi, who was particularly skilled with her fingers and focused in her work even in the group and to add the precedent where she came to us and asked what to do, was the odd jobs ace of the elementary team.

Even now, she was silently working on the angel costume as the other elementary students were messing around and talking to each other. They were watching her from afar, but they gradually dumped the work on her as if that seriousness of hers would be the end of them.

Still, doing all that alone really would be difficult, wouldn’t it…? I thought that and approached her and I selfishly sat down beside her. I then reached out for the tools to make the costume. When I did, my hand was stopped by a voice.

“Hachiman, it’s okay. Don’t need you.”

Rumi didn’t stop her working hands and continued her words without looking at me.

“I can do it alone.”

“Uh, you say that, but you…”

So she said, but the amount that was planned to be made was still quite a lot. The sizes were originally fitted to the size of a kindergartener and it wasn’t anything particularly big, but doing it alone was still probably going to be difficult. Even so, Rumi shook her head.

“It’s okay.”

“…I see. You can do it by yourself, huh?”

She probably really was planning to do it all by herself. It’s possible she might’ve been acting stubborn. And she might not even make it on time and cause trouble for others in the end too.

Even so, how she was trying her best alone was very noble.

I nosily pulled the chair and stood up. When I did, Rumi took a peek at me. Her expression looked lonely somehow and she gradually dropped her eyes.

Still standing, I lightly tapped my chest.

“But look here. I can do it better alone.”

When I said that, Rumi was looking at me blankly, but she then let out an astounded laugh.

“…What the heck is that… So dumb.”

After she said that with a small smile, Rumi stopped trying to keep me from working. We both cut through the cardboard and continued to make numerous wings.

Cooperation and trust were likely, more so than you could imagine, very cold things.

It was fine if you did things yourself, but that’s because you had to. By living your life without being a bother to anyone, for the very first time, you’d be able to ask for things from people. Once you’re able to live by yourself, for the very first time, you’d be able to walk alongside someone.

Because you lived by yourself, because you could do things by yourself, that you’d be able to do so with someone else.

I glanced at Rumi who was working next to me. This girl was probably going to be able to live by herself. If she could already do this in elementary school, she was in a good position. She was also cute too. That’s why, one day, she’d be able to walk alongside someone. For the sake of that moment… It’d be better for her if she had a rehearsal of that here.

“… Hey, you, are you going to appear in our play?”

I asked her as I cut through the cardboard. When I did, Rumi quickly stopped her scissors and stared at me.

“…It’s not ‘you’.”

“Hmm?”

What, why are you glaring at me like that so suddenly? Was it that? Were you one of those spirits that would peer into your face at your pillow side when you went to sleep at an inn? Like from those typical ghost stories?

“Rumi.”

She said her name with a slightly upset tone and looked away. Apparently she wanted me to call her that. I was a little opposed to calling a girl by her first name though… Not only was it embarrassing, but I couldn’t help but be worried that she would blurt out “Haa? You actin’ like my boyfriend or something, huh?” if I called her first name.

As I worried about what to do, Rumi completely ignored me and was advancing her work. Doesn’t look like she’ll respond unless I call her name, huh…

“You see… Rumi?”

When I called her, Rumi dropped her gaze to the top of the desk and nodded her head.

“Do you want to try participating in our play?”

YOU gotta get out there. And then we both can go straight to Aikatsu! You have a real pretty face too, it’ll totally work. Lemme produce ya, produce ya. You should totally start the Idol Activities with me.

Whether my zealous passion got through to her or not, Rumi thought for a little bit and then spoke up.

“…Is that something you can decide, Hachiman?”

“Ah? Aah, I’m something like the producer, so yeah.”

I was also acting as an admiral4 and a Love Liver5. Well, I wasn’t sure if I could decide things on my own, but the play was set to feature elementary school students and kindergarteners so it shouldn’t be an issue. Rumi stared at my face in a daze and looked like she was thinking of something, but she quickly averted her face and said in disinterest.

“Hmmm…. It’s not like I can’t do it or anything.”

“Seriously? Thanks a bunch, Rumi Rumi.”

“You’re creepy for calling me Rumi Rumi.”

Was this how fathers felt when their daughters called them creepy, I wonder…? It was surprisingly not very heart rendering, hey. As I was enveloped in a mysterious excitement, Rumi pasted together the white cardboard and asked.

“What play are you doing?”

“…Oh right, we haven’t decided yet.”

I was sure the student council was talking about it, but it might be a good idea to check their progress for now. As I was thinking, Rumi pulled on the cardboard from my hand and spoke in a cheeky tone.

“Why don’t you go hurry up and decide?”

Apparently she was saying to leave everything to her. If she was going to say that, then I had to get going. For now, I’ll make arrangements to pass things down to the helping hands and do the things I needed to do.

“…Alrighty then. See you.”

I stood up as I said that and I headed for Sobu High in the middle of their work. The first thing to do was to check with Isshiki and as I looked around, Yuigahama came up to me with a brown envelope.

“Hikki, do you know where Iroha-chan and Yukinon are?”

“Looking right now.”

“Oh okay. I got the money so I was wondering what to do with it.”

Hahaa, it looked like she went and plundered the money off of Kaihin Sogo High. I wasn’t sure what the deal was, but she was handling the money quite well despite being an idiot. She sure was domesticated…

We both looked around for Isshiki and the door to the Training Room opened. And came staggering out was Isshiki.

“What’s wrong with you…?”

When I asked her, Isshiki stood still with a dark expression.

“When I asked Hayama-senpai for help, he said no…”

“Eh, no way, Hayato-kun did?”

Yuigahama was surprised. I was a little too. I was surprised not only by Hayama declining to help someone, but also at Isshiki who was going on the offensive despite having been rejected. Still, for that Hayama to do that, huh…

Isshiki looked away sadly and sniffed, but the corners of her mouth gradually turned into a broad grin. She then lifted her head and showed a super good smile and blurted out.

“Juuuust kidding. This is like, Hayama-senpai being totally conscious of me, you knooow? Oh gosh, this is working out better than I thought!”

“Aah, that so…”

I said so with an astounded tone. Talk about resilient. If this was natural to her, then she was a force not to be reckoned with. If she was just forcing herself, again, she really was resilient.

“Ah, speaking of which, he did say he would come on the day of the event.”

“Aah, I see. Is it okay if I call other people then?”

Isshiki said with a nonchalant face and Yuigahama spoke in sync and turned my way.

“Sure, why not? Don’t know who you’re talking about though.”

“…As usual, you’re saying whatever you want.”

A resigned voice called out to me from behind. When I turned around, Yukinoshita was standing behind me having arrived there at some point.

Yukinoshita greeted Yuigahama and Isshiki and began talking and giving instructions with occasional yawns mixed in.

“You look sleepy.”

“I haven’t slept. There were some things I had to do, you see…”

When I asked her, Yukinoshita answered briefly. Still, what ever could it be that she had to stay up all night for? As I thought that, Yukinoshita began taking things out from her bag. She then looked straight at Isshiki.

“Isshiki-san.”

“Y-Yes…”

It might’ve been her lack of sleep, but Yukinoshita’s eyes were sharper than normal. Thinking she got her upset again, Isshiki stiffened up. Yukinoshita made a sudden smile when she saw that. She then handed her numerous sheets of printouts.

“I put this together so use it if it’ll serve as references.”

“Haa…”

Isshiki took the papers and I looked at it as well. When I did, it looked like a checklist and documents.

The checklist had things that should be completed before the day of the event along with necessary goods. And for the documents, written on them were Yukinoshita-esque advice.

It proposed preparing compensation for the children who would participate in the play, had recipes for Christmas cakes, Gingerbread cookies along with an estimated cost of the ingredients. There were also a vacancy report regarding the cooking rooms located at the school and the community center.

As for advice for the play, there was a scenario of the sort written about having the guests participating. Hahaaan, this was totally that. It’s basically like that Miracle Light stuff you used to cheer at a Pretty Cure movie.

Yuigahama, Isshiki, and I let out an “ooooh”, “haaaah”, “heeeeh” and as we became impressed, we continued reading on. Yukinoshita cleared her throat seemingly finding that a little uncomfortable and took something else from her bag.

“Also, this.”

In Yukinoshita’s hands were several books. She gave them to Isshiki.

“I’m not sure if these are to your tastes, but I gathered what I could find on traditional types of Christmas plays. And also, there should be a free CD player in the student council room, so try looking for that. I believe it’ll be necessary for the play.”

“…T-Thank you very much.”

Isshiki stood there firmly with books and printouts in hand in bewilderment. I imagined being given all this stuff so suddenly would be a surprise. At least I was since I didn’t think Yukinoshita would go this far in her preparations.

“You sure are something.”

When I blurted that out, Yukinoshita gently looked away.

“It’s because I can’t deal with people the way you and Yuigahama can.”

When she said that, Yuigahama and I looked at each other. We then laughed a little. Despite how she was, Yukinoshita was probably quite worried about Isshiki. You’re so hard to read, gosh!

“So with this, most problems should’ve been dealt with.”

Yukinoshita crossed her arms and placed her hand on her chin. It looked like she still had other things in mind. I tried to think as well, but the program was pretty much decided with this, so the only remaining problem should’ve been the time to finish the work.

“Well, pretty much.”

“I see.”

When I answered, Yukinoshita let out a satisfied sigh and quickly faced Isshiki.

“…Isshiki-san, I believe you should take over for the rest. That should be fine, right, Hikigaya-kun?”

“Yeah, it’s not like I was in charge or anything in the first place anyway.”

Up until now, I had only been working as a temporary stopgap so my actions weren’t as if I was in charge. Until this very moment, a leader in the strictest sense of the word didn’t exist at all.

“Um…”

Isshiki altered looks between me and Yukinoshita and spoke with a discouraged tone. Yukinoshita stopped her.

“I don’t mind if you give out instructions. I’ll participate in the work as well. It’s okay for you to ask for help if you’re having trouble.”

“But, ummm… I still think it’s kind of impossible for me.”

Isshiki let out a worried “ahaha” laugh. When she did, Yukinoshita closed her eyes and gently shook her head.

“You can do it. There’re people here supporting you, so it’s okay to believe in them.”

In response to that gentle tone, Isshiki replied “yes” with a small voice.



  1. A reference to the first opening of Detective Conan, Mune ga Dokidoki. 
  2. In case you don’t get it, Hachiman means 80,000 literally. 
  3. Takeshi the Arithmetic 
  4. Kancolle 
  5. Love Live! 

17 thoughts on “Volume 9, Chapter 9

  1. “But to think someone’s boring might’ve been a problem with the person who thought so, huh?” what does this lines mean
    is Orimoto regreting rejecting hikigaya

    • she means that when someone sees someone else as a problem the person doing the judging may actually be the one with the problem and i don’t necessarily believe she regretted rejecting him but regrets no getting to know him better because she only looked at 80,000 form a superficial prescriptive

  2. I didn’t get that part about movies and production costs. Zenzen. I tried to read it on Japanese and understood equally the same amount of it that I understood while reading translation. I beg for your help.

    • Basically, movies that focused only on flashy effects and stuff tend to never be good. I’d have to read the Japanese again.

  3. Yukino pulling up a hachiman move, I guess this is the turning point where she starts admiring 8man instead of haruno.

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