He’s just asked me out…!
…Of course, I’m happy about his feelings.
He confessed with such sincerity, and I do feel the temptation to respond in kind.
I stopped forcing a smile and looked directly into his eyes.
I conveyed my words.
“I don’t know what it means to like someone like that yet. I’m really sorry for turning down your confession, even though you were so sincere… but I can’t do it right now. I’m sorry.”
Miyanoshita-kun also expressed his feelings sincerely.
So, I should respond with honest words, free from lies.
“…I see, haa.”
Miyanoshita-kun lowered his head.
…I’ve never experienced heartbreak, but I’ve heard that it’s painful.
I hesitated about what to say, as various thoughts swirled in my mind. I could only stare at him with a serious expression.
“Huh────, I see, yeah…”
Miyanoshita-kun seemed to acknowledge something through multiple nods, and then he muttered,
“…I probably seemed arrogant because I made the first move, even though I’m an introvert. Trying to reach for the unreachable flower, huh?”
What’s happening right now…?
Before I could confirm it, Miyanoshita-kun operated his smartphone and showed it to me.
As I peered at the screen, my eyes widened in shock.
──Why? The photo on the screen was from that time when I held the “box” and appealed to everyone.
“──I took it back then. With a dual camera, the picture quality is quite good, isn’t it?”
And at that moment, I finally realized.
Miyanoshita-kun was not lowering his head out of shock. He was hiding his own anger.
“Haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah, your face is cute, and it’s more convenient this way. I was gentle at first, thinking it would work, but I never expected to be rejected. I’ve never been rejected by a girl before, damn it.”
“That photo… what do you intend to do with it?”
“Hmm? It’s a nice photo, so I guess I should show it off to everyone.”
“What do you think? Will they believe it when they see this photo?”
“Kamimura High School will probably be out of reach for you. Your parents will be sad too.”
With his words, my veins turned to ice throughout my body.
My mind was overwhelmed by fear, and I felt like I was on the verge of tears.
“Well, as long as you keep listening to me, I won’t do anything. Got it?”
Miyanoshita-kun patted my trembling shoulder.
His hand, full of bones and protruding veins, was terrifying to me, and I couldn’t hold back the tears streaming down my face.
Miyanoshita-kun, seeing me like this, genuinely smiled with pleasure.
“What’s wrong? There’s no need to cry. Well, let’s take a commemorative photo for now, a selfie. Let’s do a two-shot.”
He whispered in a sadistic tone, and my mind went completely blank.
I wanted to say something, but all that came out were sobs.
Amid my jumbled thoughts, one idea took shape within me.
“Don’t worry; I’ll take the photo with an app that can make you look better. Come on, Saki-chan, be conscious of your best angle. I’m taking it now.”
Miyanoshita-kun said that much and then… suddenly, everything went quiet.
The usual camera shutter sound didn’t come, no matter how much time passed.
I raised my tear-streaked face and looked at Miyanoshita-kun.
There was no smartphone in his hand, and his expression was filled with surprise.
“…Before practice, my contact lens came off…”
The voice that spoke was neither Miyanoshita-kun’s nor mine.
“I went back to the classroom to get a spare, but I couldn’t even find that.”
When I turned in the direction of the voice, a male student was standing right behind us.
He had deep wrinkles between his brows and, for some reason, had apparently taken Miyanoshita-kun’s smartphone and was intently peering at it.
“…By the way, Takane Saki, what’s on this smartphone?”
──Kengo Mashima was standing there.
“Huh? That’s my latest model smartphone…”
Miyanoshita-kun, who had been frozen when his smartphone was suddenly stolen, began to comprehend the situation.
Why is he here? How does he know my name?
Such inconsequential questions seemed to vanish into thin air…
“──Please help me!!”
Without asking for reasons, he said just that and opened the classroom window. With the casualness of playing with a frisbee, he tossed Miyanoshita-kun’s latest model smartphone out of the third-floor window.
The sound of Miyanoshita-kun’s latest model smartphone smashing into pieces as it hit the flowerbed on the first-floor balcony was drowned out by the rain, and it didn’t reach us…
However, the owner’s piercing scream cut through even the sound of the heavy rain, echoing throughout the entire school building.
I could only stand there, completely stunned.
“What… What the h*ll are you doing?! Why did you throw the phone out of the window!?”
“I did it intentionally, I apologize.”
“Apologize my a*s! That thing doesn’t even have waterproofing!”
“How about we exchange it with my phone?”
“You’ve got to be kidding me! It’s not even a smartphone, it’s a flip phone!”
Furious, Miyanoshita-kun slammed Mashima-kun’s flip phone onto the floor, but he just shrugged it off.
Miyanoshita-kun then unleashed a barrage of insults, occasionally resorting to violent threats, but Mashima-kun, of all people, remained unfazed, maintaining a stoic composure.
His demeanor, as Yuka-chan had put it, was indeed quite peculiar.
And for some reason, it grabbed my heart and wouldn’t let go.
“──Woah! Who’s the idiot who threw the phone out the window!?”
While they were doing this, they must have heard the commotion.
Apparently having heard the commotion, my class B teacher, Nuno-san, stormed into the classroom with his perfectly rolled head, veins popping out all over.
Perhaps he had been in the middle of his usual sermon because Arakawa-kun and Iwasawa-kun were there too.
“Hey, Baldy, can we go home already?”
“Do you know that being scolded too much during puberty can lead to baldness?”
“You guys are hopeless! Wait there! I’ll scold you later!”
“Additional scolding!! Don’t you dare move from there!”
Nuno-san was approaching us with a somewhat angry demeanor (without any ulterior motives), veins popping out of his head.
Even Miyanoshita-kun, who was usually composed, seemed unable to hide his agitation. However, to my surprise, even at this point, Mashima-kun remained unruffled!
“Tell me concisely what happened.”
“I intentionally threw Haruto Miyanoshita’s smartphone out of the window.”
You’re confessing so confidently!?
Even Miyanoshita-kun and I froze at his overly honest response, but I guess he immediately thought it was convenient.
Miyanoshita-kun’s mouth curled into a grin as he agreed with Mashima-kun.
“That’s right! He’s the one! He suddenly snatched my phone and threw it out of the window! And he intended to break it from the beginning!”
“What!? Really, Mashima!”
“…Yes, I apologize. I need to correct my previous statement. I intentionally seized Haruto Miyanoshita’s smartphone and threw it out of the window with the clear intent of destroying it.”
Well, so honest that even Nuno-san is confused!?
There should have been some lines or something to corner the culprit in the story, but now, Mashima-kun was confessing everything, and Sensei doesn’t know what to do!?
“I see… Um, what should we do? Should we contact your parents for now?”
“Sen-Sensei. Pull yourself together! This guy still has something he’s hiding!”
“Oh, really? What is it?”
“This guy, even though I and Saki-chan were just talking in the classroom, suddenly started picking a fight with me…”
“Wait, that’s false.”
“Haruto Miyanoshita’s claim that he was just talking to her is not appropriate. He was trying to blackmail her by using an artificially cropped photo. He deliberately used a manipulated photo and threatened her. While it may be overstepping my bounds, this could potentially be classified as extortion or coercion. There is a high possibility that it would be a crime.”
This time, Nuno-sensei stared fiercely at Miyanoshita-kun.
Miyanoshita-kun, on the other hand, suddenly panicked.
“Th-That’s nonsense! He’s just making things up! There was no reason for him to break my phone…”
“Falsehood. While I admit that I made a hasty decision to take those measures to stop him after witnessing a criminal act, the reasons are as I mentioned earlier.”
Nuno-sensei regained his usual composure and started to display small blue veins on his forehead.
That keen eye, aimed at punishing wrongdoers, was indeed directed at Miyanoshita-kun.
“W-Why do you believe everything he says?”
“Sensei, Mashima-kun doesn’t seem to be lying…”
“But isn’t that subjective? Eh! What he’s saying is a false accusation!”
As soon as he sensed he was in a disadvantageous position, Miyanoshita-kun became flustered.
“For one thing, there’s no evidence to support what he’s saying, is there? After all, he’s the one who broke my phone!”
“Well, that is certainly…”
“That’s a valid point.”
Why is Mashima-kun also agreeing with him…? This was not the time to ask, but Nuno-sensei had stopped his spear.
In reality, what Miyanoshita-kun was saying was correct, and Nuno-sensei seemed unsure about his decision…
“…So, what do you say, Takane? Is what Mashima is saying true?”
Nuno-sensei asked me.
y heart leaped with anxiety.
“Well, what is it?”
“I, um, well…”
──What Mashima-kun said is true.
──I was threatened by Miyanoshita-kun.
──Mashima-kun helped me.
That was all I had to say.
My throat tightened up and I couldn’t get the words out.
I knew it in my head, but my body was too scared to listen to me.
And with Miyanoshita-kun glaring at me with a terrifying look right there…
“Hey, Takane, calm down and say it slowly.”
I’m … pathetic.
I’m not worthy.
My heart continued to tighten with these feelings.
Why couldn’t I help Mashima-kun immediately, when he had helped me?
Mashima-kun spoke so boldly, but why couldn’t I utter a single word of truth?
Mashima-kun had so much courage, but why couldn’t I find it in myself?
If I were Mashima-kun, this would never have happened.
“──It’s all nonsense!”
Despite my determination, my words were drowned out by Miyanoshita-kun’s raised voice.
“Hey, Miyanoshita, sensei is trying to talk to Takane…”
“It’s useless! Everything they’re saying is a lie from beginning to end!”
“No, that’s not true! You guys are the ones who lie! That’s about it! It’s suspicious that you’re so desperate!”
“Why don’t you stop, Miyanoshita?”
Nuno-sensei warned Miyanoshita-kun, but his anger was unstoppable. His anger was directed at me.
“Maybe she’s hiding something too, and that’s why she’s trying to cover it up, right!?”
“That’s not true!”
In the face of such unreasonable circumstances and fear, my throat tightened once more, and I couldn’t find the words to speak.
Despite that, tears continued to flow freely.
See! She’s trying to cry and deceive us! Women are so sly!”
Why, oh why did things turn out this way?
Was it because I became friends with Ai-chan?
Was it because I didn’t express my opinions?
Was it because I lacked the courage?
In any case, it was undoubtedly my fault.
Unable to contain my emotions any longer, tears streamed down my face without restraint, and…
“And you always smirk! It’s so annoying! You…”
Before Miyanoshita-kun could finish his insult, something unexpected happened. Both Nuno-sensei and the students watching from the corner of the classroom, Arakawa and Iwasawa, widened their eyes.
Why? Because Mashima-kun punched Miyanoshita-kun in the face…
──With all his might.
Miyanoshita-kun, who had been struck, didn’t make a sound.
Flying in a circular pattern,
Involving two or three of his desks,
He made such a loud noise that it seemed like it would break the classroom.
Not a single one of us could utter a word. It was as if time had come to a standstill, and we all forgot to breathe.
We simply stared at Miyanoshita-kun, who had collapsed on the floor.
Our gazes gradually converged on Mashima-kun, who had gathered himself and…
“…It was intentional. It’s highly likely to fall under the category of assault.”
He said it confidently.
Arakawa-kun and Iwasawa-kun murmured in unison, “So cool…”
“…Thank you for the past three years.”
I could hear Mashima-kun’s voice from inside the faculty room.
…It seemed the discussion had concluded.
Suppressing my timid emotions, I clenched the hem of my skirt, and suddenly, the faculty room door swung open.
“? Ah, Takane Saki.”
Majima-kun noticed me standing outside the faculty room, and he approached as if nothing had happened.
“What’s up? Do you need something from me?”
Honestly, it wouldn’t be surprising if he held some resentment against me after all that. But he appeared astonishingly composed.
“…I heard you got suspended for a while, and you were forced to quit the club…”
“It’s not appropriate to say that I was forced to quit.”
“In fact, the principal tried to persuade me to stay. The Middle School karate club is gaining attention, even from the mayor of Kamimura City. So they wanted to handle this matter discreetly. But I submitted my resignation letter a while ago.”
“Why? Because someone aspiring to martial arts resorted to violence. At that point, I lost my qualifications.”
Why… It’s strange how he’s…