Saki Takane is a mysterious girl, all her classmates say that.
According to one classmate, no one has ever seen her smile.
According to another, misfortune befalls those who succeed in talking with Saki Takane.
Someone said that she is actually a full-time model for a famous fashion magazine.
And someone said that she is connected to some underground individuals.
Some even say that she conducts secret experiments in the upper high school annex in secret.
And so on, and so forth…
Almost an urban legend, isn’t she? But, putting aside the “urban legend” point of view, Saki Takane is a female student, who is the subject of endless rumors, at the Kamimura High School in Niigata Prefecture.
“Hey, is it true that you have a sugar daddy, Takane-san?”
It was a complete coincidence that I, Kengo Mashima, heard such a rumor.
It was after the opening ceremony on April 7th.
While making my rounds in the school, I saw four figures in a dark corner of the bicycle parking lot.
“I heard about it from a friend of mine, too.”
“I’m just wondering if it’s really true.”
“What do you think? Is it really profitable? I mean, how does it work? What’s up with that?”
The three girls asked questions one after another.
Needless to say, the other party was Saki Takane herself.
Her skin was as translucent and white as porcelain.
Natural, sharp eyes.
A smooth, straight nose.
Slender, yet feminine body.
Her fingers were like white fish.
Each strand of her beautiful hair, which extended all the way down her back, was shiny like silk threads and danced lightly in the spring breeze.
The beauty of this somewhat inhuman figure was probably born from her consistent expressionless face, no matter the occasion.
The phrase “A face like a Noh mask” means not only expressionless but also beautiful.
(TL Note: https://internationalnohinstitute.files.wordpress.com/2020/12/20201126_200827.jpg)
This is a perfect description of her.
She did not even move her well-defined face, but said
“I don’t do that.”
It was such a simple and clear answer. Beautiful, even.
However, the answer was too brief, so their curiosity didn’t stop.
“No, it’s okay! It’s not like we’re going to tell anyone about it!”
“We’re just purely curious!”
“If you’re embarrassed, just tell us a little bit! Okay?”
The girls lean forward to question Saki Takane.
They are thrilled to see a pinch of ‘spice’ in a rural and uneventful high school.
“I don’t do that…”
I felt a slight shiver at the end of Saki Takane’s words as she repeated them one more time.
I breathed in as much as my chest could hold.
As hard as I could.
My angry voice rang out on the bicycle parking lot, causing all four of them, including Saki Takane, to leap to their feet.
I later learned that my angry shouts echoed all the way to the third floor of the school building, causing a flock of sparrows that had been lined up along a nearby power line to flee all at once.
“What, what, what, what!?”
“Class of 2C, Rika Kanaya! Kokomachi Shizuku! Mai Hanadachi! The first section of the dress code in the student handbook states that skirts should be long enough to cover the knees! All of you clearly exceed three centimeters above the knee! That’s a violation of the school rules! I will issue an immediate warning!”
The girls all turned to me at once, startled as if they had seen a ghost.
“And? There it is! Public order freak!”
“How can you tell how long someone’s skirt is just by looking at it from that distance!?”
“Run, run! If you get caught, he’ll give you a big lecture!”
“I’ve already issued a warning once this month to Rika Kanaya and Mai Hanadachi! The first one was a warning! The second one is to submit a written statement of your reflection! One sheet of writing paper for every centimeter of skirt length above the knee!”
“Gah…!! He’s got a ruler!!”
The girls were cornered, and they were on the run.
The three of them turned their short skirts around and quickly scattered and ran away…….
Soon they were out of sight.
“They are running away so fast. Do they really hate it so much when the skirt is a few centimeters lower?”
I groaned in frustration, but the targets of my guidance were already far away.
Thus, she and I were the only ones left in the deserted bicycle parking lot.
“Okay, class 2B, Saki Takane.”
Saki Takane’s shoulders jumped when her name was called.
When she turned around, her face was still “like a Noh mask”.
It was difficult to tell what she was thinking from the expression on her face, which did not change much.
“The length of your skirt is just about knee-length, and standard is always the most beautiful. Now, if you’ll excuse me.”
Saki Takane’s eyes widened slightly. Her eyes looked as if they were going to suck me in.
“What is it?”
“Aren’t you going to lecture me?”
“You saw that, didn’t you? The subjects of my guidance got away from me.”
“You heard our conversation earlier, didn’t you?”
“I didn’t hear it.”
“You were listening to it… weren’t you?”
Saki Takane stared at me intently. I couldn’t stand being stared at with those eyes that seemed to absorb me, so I immediately looked away.
I’ve never been good at telling lies.
“… Sorry, I didn’t mean to overhear you, but no, that’s an excuse.”
“You were helping me?”
“I apologize if I interfered in your conversation.”
“No… I was just curious.”
“If you listened to our conversation earlier, I think you should know that I’m the one who needs to be instructed…”
Saki Takane was unusually blunt.
But I, on the other hand, was very clear.
“…Why? You said earlier that you don’t do that yourself, didn’t you? There is no need for guidance.”
The person in question, Saki Takane, denied the rumors, which had no basis in fact.
That was the end of the story.
“Nothing takes precedence over the words of the person in question.”
So I just said what I thought was perfectly natural.
That was my intention.
“……I’ve never heard anyone say that to me before…….”
For some reason, Saki Takane was shocked.
Well, it could’ve been just my misunderstanding, since she still wore a “Noh mask” as usual.
“Anyway, I have some committee work to do, so I’ll leave you.”
As I was leaving, I bowed to her.
Then she said, in a small voice.
And she thanked me.
“It’s nothing to worry about.”
I replied, and then walked away.
─ ─ Misfortune befalls those who succeed in talking with Saki Takane.
On my way back to the school building, my mind was filled with a joke I had heard somewhere sometime ago.
…How ridiculous. She is a normal, well-spoken girl.
Naturally, nothing unfortunate ever happened to me, and I even forgot that there was such a rumor in the first place… until one week later.
The incident occurred in the middle of the “Greeting Week” led by the Public Discipline Committee members.
“…Hey, I heard that Takane-san likes you.”
It was a Monday morning in the mild spring weather, in front of the school gate.
Yuka Senami, a somewhat small animal-like girl from Class 2A, said to me with a nasty smirk on her face.
I hold my head and sigh.
I see… I see… That’s how it is.
Forgetting that I had been standing in front of the school gate since 7:00 a.m. to instruct the students regarding dusting, I let out a deep, deep sigh that didn’t seem to be appropriate for a brisk morning.
“Eh, what’s with that reaction ……?”
“I don’t know who you heard it from, but that rumor is a hoax.”
“Ehh?! You’re sure about it?”
However, Yuka Senami was not convinced.
“How can you be so sure?”
“Why? I hear crazy things often. Look at this.”
The timing may or may not have been good, but the person in question, Saki Takane herself, was on her way into school.
“…It’s Takane-san, right?”
“Yes, that is Saki Takane.”
I’ve already described Saki Takane’s excellent looks, so I’ll spare you…
She was as beautiful as ever today.
“Well, I’ve been thinking about something.”
“Why is it that all I hear about are rumors about Takane Saki?”
“Ha, what’s on your mind?”
“First of all, Saki Takane is very good-looking.”
“How can you say such a thing while being serious, Mashima-kun…?”
“I’ve heard that she’s quite popular with the boys. I heard a rumor that when she was a freshman, a whole class of boys confessed their feelings for her.”
“Ha-ha-ha, no kidding, even Takane Saki is not that popular.”
“I guess a rumor is just rumor.”
“A dozen boys, to be exact. She turned them all down.”
I didn’t know of any other culture that counted the number of opposite gender confessions by the dozen.
…Be that as it may.
“One thing, she’s mysterious.”
“Saki Takane is a solitary, silent person, and despite her high profile, she discloses as little information as possible to those around her- a gap that has led to a lot of speculation. Look at that calm and collected expression on her face.”
“To me, she just looks like she’s not thinking…….”
“Whatever it is, it’s a high pinnacle.”
The flower of a high peak.
I just said the phrase that popped into my head, but it fit better than I thought it would.
A single flower blooming on a high peak that no one can reach… That was Takane Saki.
“How about me on the contrary?”
“What about you?”
“I’m the hated, uptight, discipline committee president.”
“Oh… what about that…?”
“I don’t need flattery, I’m aware of it.”
Foolishly honest and immensely serious – that was the evaluation given to me.
Perhaps it was because of these qualities that I was given the great role of Discipline Committee President in my second year, and I have been nagging and “instructing” many students.
I knew that I was the complete opposite of popular, and I knew that I was being looked upon with disdain.
On the one hand, she was a flower of high reputation, and on the other hand, I was a stiff and hated president of the Discipline Committee.
“There’s no way we could ever match.”
We live in different worlds to begin with.
…It’s not hard to imagine the hardships Takane Saki must have been going through if she kept getting bombarded with false rumors one after another.
As I thought about that to myself…
“Yes, no~…? I guess you can’t exactly say ~?”
I raised my eyebrows at this.
“Why do you insist on going that far…?”
“Well, that’s, umm, a woman’s intuition…?”
Yuka Senami’s eyes flashed, and my eyebrows clenched together.
“…Wait a minute. Who told you about the rumor? You can’t be the source, can you?”
“No, it’s different! It’s different… Hmm? No, is it…?”
“…Student Handbook, Section 1, “Daily Principles”. Always maintain dignity in speech, action and behavior, and do not be rude – spreading rumors of unknown truth just for the fun of it is not the way to go. If you are the source of a rumor, please refer to….”
“My friend! I heard it from a friend, but I forgot who told me! But it’s true! I heard that rumor!”
…But the bad thing is that it’s all over the place.
If what Yuka Senami said was true, it seems that rumors were beginning to spread again.
Then, as a school discipline committee member, I couldn’t just overlook it.
“All right, if you insist that much, I’ll check it out.”
“Eh? What do you mean by check out….?”
“─Good morning, Saki Tanake-san, I suddenly heard a rumor claiming that you have feelings towards me.”
“What are you doing…!?!?!?”
A blue-faced Yuka Senami jumps around, trying to block my mouth. Sadly, she and I were more than 20 centimeters apart in height, so that’s not going to happen.
Besides, there was a reason I had to check with Saki Takane right here and now.
“Oh, what’s that?”
“Takane-san’s being detained by the Discipline Committee president.”
“I heard something about ‘Takane-san liking Mashima-kun’?”
“Uso, you must have misheard me. If it were the other way around, that would be one thing.”
“No, it’s not possible for it to be the other way around! It’s that “Public order freak”!”
Now, as I had hoped, the students on their way to school began to pay attention to us.
Just as I had hoped… Yes, this situation was just as I had hoped.
Rumors, I believe, are only half-way unofficial, which stirs people’s interest and spreads the rumor.
If that would be the case, then Saki Takane herself would deny the rumor outright in front of the public, as she did the other day.
Then, this rumor, which I don’t know how far it had spread, could be eliminated once and for all.
“….Saki Takane, I ask you again, is there any truth to this rumor?”
The onlookers surrounding her naturally leaned forward as I asked the question again.
The attention was enough.
The next step is for Saki Takane to answer the question again with a firm and resolute “It’s a hoax.” and I’ll take it from there.
I will follow up from there so that this will never happen again.
Soon after, Saki Takane opened her mouth.
Surrounded by such a large number of people, she was still as no-nonsense as ever, not the slightest hint of mental agitation.
And then she said in her beautiful voice, …
“W-w-w-why w… why would you ask me that?”
Probably everyone there had the same reaction as me.
Only Yuka Senami seemed to have her head in her hands in a half-amused manner, though I did not know why.
“What, what, what, what? What’s wrong?”
“That’s my line…”
Saki Takane’s face remained as beautiful and expressionless as a statue, but… Her voice was shaking, her whole body was trembling. She looked like a frightened rabbit.
…I have to respond first.
“…Why would I ask such a question?”
Was that hiccup-like sound an affirmation, Saki Takane?
“The state of rampant baseless rumors can be taken as a sign that public morals on campus are in disarray.”
“If it can be proven that this is a hoax, then I and the other members of the Discipline Committee will be able to take action…”
“Are you listening to me, Saki Takane?”
“Do you have any idea who might be spreading this kind of false information?”
Saki Takane paused for a moment, then came to her senses.
“N-n-no… I don’t know anyone who would spread such false rumors.”
“So it’s not true?”
Her mouth was tightly closed and she fell silent.
…Saki Takane was acting strangely.
Her cheeks were flushed and she was vocalizing a lot more than I would normally expect from her.
TLN: Ok guys, new sweet LN here.