Classroom Of The Elite Second Year Volume 2: Chapter 1
Chapter 1: School Life Is Changing
On that day, our second-year class D faced a strange situation we had never experienced before.
Teruhiko Yukimura’s right leg repeatedly trembled as he looked towards the classroom entrance.
“Can you calm down a bit? Kiyopon just left five minutes ago. The teacher called him over for some reason, right? It’s going to take a while.”
Hasebe Haruka, a classmate and close friend of Yukimura, spoke to him. Also, other Ayanokoji group members, Sakura Airi and Miyake Akito sat around next to accompany her.
“I’m quite relaxed... don’t worry.”
Even though Yukimura, who responded like this, stopped shaking his leg temporarily, it didn’t take him much longer to get restless again. His right leg’s sound moving up and down against his pants echoed silently in all four directions inside the classroom.
Although Yukimura had planned to talk to Kiyotaka after school as soon as possible, he had to give up temporarily due to the appearance of Horikita. Then he heard from Horikita that Chabashira-sensei had called Ayanokoji. Yukimura was unsure where to find him, so he came back and recurred to waiting in the classroom until Ayanokoji came back. While looking at Yukimura’s action, Hasebe sighed, somewhat helplessly, and looked out the window.
Since Hasabe knew very well Yukimura did not usually shake his leg, she quickly realized there was no point anymore to calm him down. The atmosphere in the second-year class D classroom was tense.
The sky in May, which marked the beginning of spring, was so clear and beautiful. Hasebe was thinking straight to herself.
Then, she thought again about the current situation. How did the situation become like this?
In April, the first and second-year students together took a special exam.
Out of the five subjects examined in the special exam, her friend, Ayanokoji Kiyotaka, scored a perfect score in the math subject.
If it were a regular exam, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the students get a perfect score.
But Yukimura, who secured a top position at academics in class D, understands the students who get perfect scores in exams would appear every once in a while. Of course, occasionally, an unexpectedly occult student would get a perfect score. These students studied very hard before the exams, or they stuck in a situation where they happened to narrow down the subject’s topics based on their intuition.
But this special exam was very different from the previous one.
Of course, Hasebe had noticed it vaguely, although it was not in the same way as Yukimura.
In the special exam, regardless of the subject, the only student who scored a perfect score was Ayanokoji.
This could not be explained by a pretest surprise or by mere coincidence.
“It’s only been six minutes...I don’t expect him to return.”
It was impossible to leave the restless Yukimura alone as a friend. Hasebe thought about talking to something completely different but then decided to go along with Yukimura and broach the subject. Although the reason for doing this was primarily because she thought it would be possible to distract him. And Hasebe herself wanted to know precisely how proficient Ayanokoji was so he could score perfectly in math.
“This time, was the question too difficult?”
Yukimura nodded without any hesitation when he heard the question.
“It’s not a matter whether it was difficult or not. I didn’t even understand the question during the exam.”
What Yukimura meant was it wasn’t because he couldn’t find the answer. Because he couldn’t even understand the question itself.
“After the exam, I checked the exam questions to the best of my knowledge, but they were far beyond the scope of what we learn in high school. In other words, it’s a question which we, a normal high school student, never could have solved.”
“What do you mean? What is the problem with the school? This question is not even the scope of an exam anymore.”
“‘It’s certainly unreasonable. That’s why the scores obtained in each subject have fallen dramatically. But, as Chabashira-sensei said, many questions in the exam were not so difficult.”
In addition to some unexpectedly tough questions, several easy questions were also added to the previous special exam.
In other words, the exam was conducted in such a way that even if a student couldn’t get a perfect score, the student wouldn’t get a low score either.
“So, does the school compensate for it by raising our average score?”
“After all, the exam results are causally related to our expulsion. That’s a big relief for the class.”
The thing itself was just something to be happy about, but it was just a small thing for Yukimura.
“Ayanokoji got a perfect score in the previous special exam, which, in my opinion, was impossible for a normal high school student. I... it’s like, I was witnessing a magic trick!”
Even though he specifically used his last name to address him, which shows Yukimura’s anger towards him.
“I can’t believe he solved a difficult question. Kiyotaka-kun is amazing!!!”
Sakura said with a broad smile on her face to slightly change the current heavy atmosphere.
But her statement had the opposite effect on Yukimura, and his facial expression tightened even more.
“I analyzed everyone’s academic ability in class D throughout the previous year. Because of why I was surprised by this year’s special exam result. I judged no one could ever solve the question which was asked in the previous exam.”
“I think you should tell me more.”
Shinohara Satsuki, a fellow classmate who listened to Ayanokoji Group members' conversation, also joined the conversation.
Because of her actions, many of her classmates started to listen to what Yukimura and others said.
“You’ve already checked the results on the tablet, haven’t you? Was there anyone in this class, besides Ayanokoji, who got perfect scores in even one subject? Come on, you look at the result of other classes as well, and you get a better idea. Look at the entire second-year result. There isn’t a single student in second-year, even Ichinose-san or Sakayanagi-san, got a perfect score in any subject.”
The facts spoke louder than the words. Yukimura brought the reality of what happened and put it on the table.
By using the OAA application, which was previously installed on the phone, anyone can see the exam results outside the second-year class D.
“I didn’t even notice these facts. We can even see the results of other classes as well. How is it possible?”
The surprised Shinohara picked up the tablet and slid away incredulously.
“I mean, who knows. Perhaps it’s because of the introduction of the OAA application, or maybe it’s another reason. No matter what’s the reason, I think the only way to know the answer to the question is to wait and see what kind of explanation will be disclosed.”
“Aaaah, I hate these things. Doesn’t that mean a lot of students are going to find out my score as well? This is the worst!”
Karuizawa Kei, who is the leader of girls in class D, said her opinion while screaming.
“Maybe Ayanokoji-kun is just a math genius! You see, in TV dramas, isn’t there a person who uses math or something similar to solve a murder case? I have that kind of feeling.”
Yukimura denied with dumbfounded disbelief at Karuizawa’s words, who could not read the atmosphere of the situation in a different direction than Sakura.
“Then, tell me, why didn’t he get a perfect score on his previous math exams? If he was able to answer the questions this time, why didn’t he get a perfect score or something similar before?”
Yukimura replied firmly as if he felt the other party had missed the important point entirely.
“What’s the point of asking a question to me? Isn’t it something like, perhaps he studied a lot during spring break or whatever?”
Yukimura is slowly becoming more and more irritated by Karuizawa’s dumb answers.
“This isn’t something he can do in a short period of time. Even if he had studied at a higher level than I could have imagined, it doesn’t explain that he solved problems that were not within the scope of what a high school student would learn! If you can’t even understand a simple thing, then keep your mouth shut.”
Yukimura, who spoke bluntly, made Karuizawa angry too, and everything gradually approached the boiling point.
“I don’t know anything about what you just said. So, can you stop getting angry so easily? You’re making me angry too.”
“Yes, yes! Isn’t it strange that you’re getting angry with Karuizawa-san?”
Maezono immediately attacked Yukimura in order to help Karuizawa.
Karuizawa, who had earned an ally, immediately turned around and investigated what Yukimura had said.
“You make it sound like you’re pretty amazing, but could it turn out you can’t understand the point yourself, Yukimura-kun? The truth is maybe it’s just you who couldn’t solve the question, but the question itself, it’s not so difficult, is it?”
Karuizawa herself knew in her heart she was really being sarcastic with these statements.
But she didn’t change her attitude because she felt she had to play dumb here.
However, as the atmosphere warmed up in the classroom, the doubts about Ayanokoji grew deeper.
“So maybe he knew the answer by chance?”
“I just said...”
Yukimura had already surpassed his anger, and now he was at the point of being speechless.
And then, to sort out his emotions, he began to explain things thoroughly.
“I... well, it’s my assumption. That guy...could probably be good at math to an incredible level.”
“So, what’s the problem? This is what I said. He was a math genius, right?”
“That’s not the point. If that’s the case, then that guy...”
“Ah, sorry to interrupt. I have a thought in my mind regarding this matter, but I don’t know if I have to say it...”
When the conversation took an unexpected turn, Setsuya Minami further interrupted the conversation as a spectator.
“Ayanokoji getting a perfect score was quite confusing, and I don’t think anything strange about what Yukimura had said. I think it’s early to jump to a conclusion and call him a math genius, isn’t it? After all, I’ve never seen such a surprising score before.”
This time, his statement was to calm down everything in order to support Yukimura’s statement by throwing doubt from a different direction.
“That’s why I was wondering if Ayanokoji has done something shady?”
It was the idea about Ayanokoji being a math genius that began to come to the minds of Yukimura and many other students. However, a different view also emerged in order to conflict with that.
“What if he didn’t solve the difficult question with his own strength? That might be possible.”
“It’s definitely possible. It’s like Ayanokoji knew the answer beforehand or something similar. Remember, didn’t this happen in the first year too? It was the only exam which asked the same question as in previous years!”
Kanji Ike said while remembering the past special exam.
A year ago, in the spring, a student received the past exam question paper from the third-year student. It was a difficult exam back then, but anyone could get a high score if a student could remember the answers.
“But assuming the questions were the same as in the past exams, isn’t it strange he hasn’t given us the valuable information? And it’s also strange that no one in the other classes noticed it too.”
While hearing Ike’s statement, Miyamoto somewhat calmly pointed out the things he couldn’t agree with.
“So...in an unusual way, by knowing the answer to questions in advance...? Somehow Ayanokoji did cheat or something similar.”
“Cheating? In what way did he cheat?”
After Ike responded, somewhat in a calm way, Shinohara threw another question.
“He probably hacked into the school’s computers and stole the answers before the special exam or something! Isn’t it possible?”
“That’s the same stupid thing Karuizawa said...”
Yukimura had a headache as the class became more and more confused about the situation.
However, miraculously enough time began to flow rapidly through this speculative issue.
The heat in the center of the discussion focused on the possibility that Ayanokoji had not solved the question of its strength. Instead, he got the answers some other way.
Since Ayanokoji had never scored a good score before in any special exam, this was probably the natural course for the discussion.
But the one who turned the tables was Sudo Ken, who had been quietly listening until then.
The student, who was over six feet tall, stood up and instantly attracted the whole class’s attention.
“You seem to be talking about it enthusiastically, yet there is no evidence which proves Ayanokoji did anything wrong, is there? Don’t jump to conclusions when the concerned person is not here.”
But the fact those words came out of Sudo surprised everyone.
Even Ike, who was on good terms with Sudo on a daily basis, didn’t find it very pleasant.
“What do you mean, Ken? Don’t tell me you’re on Ayanokoji’s side?”
“That’s not what I meant. But how could Ayanokoji get the answers so easily…? I just thought he was more likely to get the perfect score with his own skills.”
The second half of his statement wasn’t so direct, but he expressed his opinion anyway.
“If we’re talking about his academic ability, his last month OAA rating was lower than mine, right? How could he get a perfect score without doing some shady things?”
Miyamoto, who had looked at the updated OAA data at the end of the school day, said he believed Ayanokoji had done some cheating.
“It just means his academic abilities were different from last year. Anyone can improve.”
“Isn’t it just like Sudo-kun said? After all, Sudo-kun’s academic ability also excelled Miyamoto-kun’s ability.”
Karuizawa’s sharp criticism embarrassed Miyamoto for a moment.
A year ago, it wasn’t an overstatement to call Sudo the worst student in the entire school year. But now, after the OAA data was updated, his academic ability had suddenly risen to 54. His score was only one point higher than Miyamoto’s academic score, which was 53 points, but it was still higher.
“Well, it’s because Sudo was studying very hard. I recognize his growth, but... but Ayanokoji has been growing too much and in an incredible way!”
“So, maybe there’s a chance he’s holding back, just like Koenji!”
Now, Karuizawa’s earlier point regarding Ayanokoji was a math genius that resonated again.
It seemed the conversation had closed at one point and was heading in an even worse direction.
“Well, isn’t this an even bigger problem? Doesn’t that mean he didn’t contribute to the class?”
These points could have been recorded, but they weren’t.
If Ayanokoji was hiding his strength, then there would be nothing wrong with just what Ike said.
Sudo and the others, who always had a good relationship in their circle of friends, were about to get into an internal conflict.
When it was judged from the situation which could no longer be in control, one of the students acted as a mediator.
“Let’s all calm down a bit. We can’t solve the problem here just by letting ourselves get carried away, can we?”
When the class atmosphere was getting worse and worse, Hirata Yosuke intervened and pressed the pause button. Hirata, who usually took the initiative to unify the class, remained silent until the last minute. The reason for doing so was because he decided to figure out what his classmates were thinking and how they were reacting and then act to resolve the situation.
The first thing Hirata did was to speak to Sudo in a gentle way.
“Sudo-kun, isn’t it almost time for your club activities?”
“Huh? Ahhhh, now that you mention it...”
Sudo comes to his senses as if he has been suddenly confronted with reality.
“I know you are worried about this issue, but there are many unclear things right now about Ayanokoji and his perfect score. I don’t think it is worth letting your club activities be affected by mere speculation. You know very well ‘I’ll be late just this once’ won’t solve any problem, right?”
Hirata judged from the situation the main objective, for now, is to reduce the number of students in the classroom.
After becoming too nervous, they forgot about their club activities; Sudo and the others first calmed down. The introduction of the OAA made a number of students concerned about their grades, including Sudo.
Sudo quietly picked up his bag, after looking at Suzune’s back, who didn’t even try to speak a word throughout the commotion, before leaving the classroom. The other students who had activities did the same.
“I have to go too. Sorry, I’ll leave Keisei to you.”
“Yes, Miyacchi. See you later.”
Akito Miyake, a member of the Ayanokoji Group, picked up his archery club kit and left the classroom. Sakura and Hasebe said goodbye to him.
The rest of the students also glanced at each other and tried to return to their dormitories, but more than half of them were still remaining in the classroom.
Our class D had just come out of the first special exam when we reached the second year.
Although I had injured my left hand in the conflict with Hosen, I somehow avoided being expelled from the school. The injury was a price to pay, so it would take some time to recover properly. However, it was something that could not be avoided.
I left the reception room under Tsukishiro’s watchful eye, and once the door closed, I was able to breathe a little easier.
And now, my daily life of being an ordinary student would finally return...
But in the current situation, this type of naive thinking would not be enough.
It’s something different when the Acting Director Tsukishiro called a student to have a conversation with him, which many students would find strange. As I thought about it, I had to accept the reality in front of my eyes, the fact about which I couldn’t do anything.
I have no choice but to assume it’s the chains that will forever follow me around due to my escape from the White Room.
After all, the only way to get out of this mess was to be expelled from school.
“It seems you’ve finished your talk, huh?”
Chabashira-sensei, who was waiting for me at a distance from the reception room, accidentally joined me.
I was a bit depressed, looking at Chabashira-sensei’s figure, but I didn’t let it show on my face.
Even now, Tsukishiro did not know I was working with Chabashira-sensei, the homeroom teacher of second-year class D, and Mashima-sensei, a homeroom teacher second-year class A. In that situation, Chabashira-sensei was waiting for me after Tsukishiro summoned me. So, what was if it wasn’t something unnatural?
He used the Chabashira-sensei to call me was familiar if it was considered the homeroom teacher's role to contact a student on behalf of the Director. Still, the possibility that Tsukishiro is using it as a trap is also undeniable. Therefore, I intended to leave her without contacting me again.
And if it were a normal scenario of teacher and student, it would be an unnatural act for the teacher to wait for the student.
If she had been calmer about it, she could have come to a conclusion herself.
She must have been influenced by the fact I got a perfect score in math and revealed some of my true strengths in front of my classmates might have affected me. It is not like I could not understand her concern, but this was a careless act on her part.
If there is a point on which I can’t support her, she and I have quite different perspectives about the man called Tsukishiro.
For Chabashira-sensei, what was most important is she was connected in some way with the father of one of her students.
After all, she did not know anything about the White Room’s background, so she was excused.
It was only natural. Our precaution and attitude toward Tsukishiro were inadvertently different.
So, I will not comment on those points as well.
The only thing I can do now is to leave the place as quickly as possible, so I continued to walk forward.
“From today onwards, you’ll become a celebrity.”
I was wondering what she would say first, and it turned out to be something like this.
“I’m not happy with the current situation, but it was a necessary step. I can only assume this is well within the tolerance area.”
“To ignore the students in the other classes for a moment, how are you going to explain it to your own classmates? You’ve always tried your best to seem discreet, but suddenly you get a perfect score on a difficult math exam. Of course, your classmates won’t leave you alone. Did you prepare for this scenario beforehand?”
I ignored her words while I thought about what to do for the rest of the day.
I had left my bag in the classroom, so I had to go back to class to pick my bag.
“There’s no point in acting in advance. I’ll start thinking about this from now.”
It would have been somewhat suspicious to tell my classmates beforehand like I would get a perfect math score on the next special exam.
“This is going to be difficult for you. Be ready to face lots of questions.”
If she already knows a bit about what will happen, I hope she’ll let me go as soon as possible.
“Let’s stop here. If I keep walking with a teacher, it will only attract too much unnecessary attention.”
“I know, I know.”
Chabashira-sensei mumbled as she walked towards the staff office.
It seemed she was doing her best to suppress her emotions, but I could quickly tell she was overwhelmed with joy.
As compared to the other classroom teachers, she seemed to be the one keeping the most distance from her students, but in reality, she might be the closest one to her students. It appears it was because of the regrets she has felt since she was a student that her feelings, which were difficult to suppress, came to the surface.
In front of the normal high school student, her poker face would be enough to hide her emotions... However, for me, it was a bit of fun. It was easy to manipulate, but now it was just getting in the way.
It didn’t make sense to waste my energy on Chabashira-sensei and her way of thinking, so I put it in the back of my mind for the moment.
After a while, I took out my cell phone to contact Horikita, and even though the call continued, she did not answer.
Then I tried to send her a simple text message, but she did not read it.
At this point, Horikita seemed to be the most helpful student to resolve this situation because of her involvement in the math duel and Student Council issues.
To explain the situation, a bit would enable some improvisation. If possible, I would like to talk to her first regarding the situation, but it looks like I’ll have to deal with it on the spot.
I can see my classroom from a distance.
I wonder how the class responded after my perfect math score.
It would be great if all the students went back to their dorms as usual.
As soon as I returned to the classroom with that kind of hope in my mind, I could see the scene in front of me was exactly the opposite of what I expected.
It hadn’t been 30 minutes since Tsukishiro had summoned me.
Usually, most of the students had already left the classroom one after another.
However, there were quite a few students left in the classroom, despite the fact there were only students who weren’t involved in any club activities.
Of course, their objective was not to be mentioned. It was supposed to be me.
It was clear enough for those who experienced the classroom atmosphere and the way they looked at me.
Among them, Horikita, who didn’t answer my call before, was also present in the classroom.
It seems Horikita evaluated the situation better than I expected.
I didn’t have time to express my gratitude because many students rushed over me as soon as I entered the classroom.
In front of me were Keisei, a member of the Ayanokoji group, and one of my friends. Unlike the cheerful Chabashira-sensei I met before, his expression was somewhat bitter.
“I’m sorry I couldn’t talk to you when you called me earlier.”
Keisei planned to have a conversation with me right after school, but Horikita’s appearance interrupted him, and we haven’t started our discussion, so I apologized for that first.
“It’s not a problem. More importantly, do you have more time now? I have some questions in my mind, which I want to ask you.”
Haruka and Airi, who was also from the Ayanokoji group, gathered around him.
Akito wasn’t there, so I guess he had some club activities, as mentioned earlier.
In addition, quite a few other students in the classroom were listening intently to see what was going on.
“Hey, you... Now, what about the perfect score you got in math? I checked the scores of all other students in the entire second year on the OAA application, and even Ichinose-san and Sakayanagi-san didn’t get perfect scores in a single subject. You’re the only one in the entire second year.”
Naturally, just getting a slightly better score on an exam wouldn’t create this kind of atmosphere.
But this exam was completely different.
When a student had higher academic ability evaluation, they could understand the abnormality of getting a perfect score on the exam.
Yet it seemed those who were too weak in academic ability also understood this abnormality after the students around them had told their story.
My eyes went to Horikita, who was sitting in the front row, for help.
“Well, let me explain it to you on behalf of Ayanokoji-kun.”
Generally, at this point, Horikita would have returned to the dormitory. Still, she might have seen and judged the situation while the other students were in the classroom discussing these points and decided to remain in the classroom in order to solve the problem. It’s an accurate judgment. Since her attention focused on me all this time, I didn’t need to make a special effort to confirm that she stayed behind to help me make things right.
To keep everyone’s attention focused on herself, she stood up from her seat and took a step closer to me.
“I... I was asking a question to Kiyotaka.”
Keisei expressed intense disgust at Horikita, who had intervened like an unnecessary stranger...
“Yes. But Yukimura-kun, I am the one who has the right answers to all of your questions.”
“...What are you talking about?”
Using a deliberately disconcerting expression, Horikita managed to get Keisei and all the other students’ attention with a single sentence.
“Yukimura-kun and I- no, from the entire second year, nobody managed to get a perfect score, so don’t all other students wonder how Ayanokoji-kun achieved a perfect score? Doesn’t everyone think it’s inconceivable?”
The question was addressed to Keisei, but everyone in the classroom was thinking about it too.
“That’s right... To be honest, I’m a bit confused right now. I’ve said this before, right? The last question on the exam was impossible to solve by a normal high school student. But Kiyotaka did it as if it were nobody’s business, and I just can’t understand it.”
I remembered when the exam ended, some of the students in the class were extremely surprised by the exam’s content. Even starting with Keisei and Yosuke, the students who scored highest in every exam, were discussing tough questions. The discussion had even extended to the Ayanokoji group as well, and I remembered at the time, I didn’t answer whether I solved the last question or not, and in the end, I avoided the problem itself.
“Kiyotaka must know very well that no one in the class could solve such problems at all. But Kiyotaka couldn’t even show off he had solved the problem. Isn’t it strange? It even seems like he has something he can’t reveal...maybe he did something shady, and knew the answers from the beginning, or something.”
“I mean, he cheated... Of course, it’s not surprising if Yukimura-kun and others have thoughts like that.”
Horikita takes Keisei’s words and expresses them straight out.
Keisei turned away as if he was in an awkward position, but Horikita chased after him.
“In this situation, it is difficult not to suspect him. If I were a student who knew nothing about the situation, I would feel the same way as you, Yukimura-kun, and I would believe Ayanokoji-kun had somehow betrayed the class. However, here it’s not the case.”
Horikita slightly adjusted her breathing and looked at the students who were paying attention to her.
“I’m going to explain the same thing to students who weren’t present right now. To solve the mystery of Ayanokoji-kun’s perfect score, we’ll have to go back to last year’s spring.”
The spring of last year. In other words, the time when we first came to this school.
“I’m sure you all remember that my seat was always next to Ayanokoji-kun, even though we had just changed seats sometimes ago. Well, soon after school was started, when I was talking to Ayanokoji-kun, I suddenly realized he was extremely good at academics...even better than me.”
“Even better than Horikita at academics? Wait. I remember Kiyotaka’s scores were near to average when he entered school. I’m sorry, but I can’t see anything about it deserves special attention. In the OAA application, his evaluations were only in the average as C, right?”
Although Keisei’s keen question, which came from his precise recollection of the past, did not disturb Horikita at all.
“Of course. This is because my strategy was already in place before the first special exam ended.”
After saying, Horikita walked towards the direction of the podium. This was an action made to draw all the students’ attention to herself that has initially been focused on me.
I thought she would help me, but the way she did was better than I expected.
“From the beginning, I knew he would get perfect scores in math. And since I knew this before anyone else, I came up with a little strategy.”
“...A little strategy?”
For Keisei, however, he wouldn’t have just one or two questions.
He should also be concerned about how I had gained the knowledge which was supposed to be beyond the reach of an average high school student.
But anyway, Horikita decided to ignore his concern for the time being and continued to move forward with her explanation.
She focused on why I hid the fact that I was able to study, rather than how I acquired the knowledge.
This is how Horikita established a focus and directed everyone’s attention to the point.
“Last year in April, everyone in class D was happy to receive a large amount of money, in terms of private points, transferred by the school authority. I’m ashamed to say I was one of them, too. But I had the feeling something unexpected was about to happen in the future, and it did. During that time, I asked Ayanokoji-kun, who was sitting next to me, whether he could hold back on the exam or not. Let’s just call it a reserve tactic or a trump card. Of course, I told him to keep it at a level that would not hold back the entire class. And that’s how his academic ability was assessed as a C by the school...”
The academic ability of mine was never noticed until now.
Horikita explained to the others I’d maintained the academic ability until now purposefully as part of a formulated strategy. Of course, if students looked carefully at what happened a year ago, they would find it strange too. Horikita was not a student who could have a good relationship with others, would raise questions such as what was the exact moment Horikita realized I was good at academics, etc. There were holes everywhere in Horikita’s explanation.
However, for most of the students, the memories of a year ago were a distant past. Besides the extreme events recorded in the memory, the ones that are not so memorable are even harder to recall.
There were only a few students who managed to remember those events as if they happened yesterday.
Many students said It looks like this happened, using their imagination to fill in memory gaps.
Of course, for students like Keisei, who have a strong sense of mistrust, tricking them wouldn’t be simple.
Keisei didn’t let go of Horikita and went after the parts that would be hard to explain.
“...Your words are not completely convincing me. If you were in any doubt regarding the school’s system or rules, it would be beneficial for the class to get higher scores from the beginning. Since he got a perfect score on this exam, getting an A or A+ in academic ability would not be impossible. Even if it was just one student’s score, it might even slowly increase the number of class points of our class.”
Keisei said he was unable to understand the advantages of Horikita’s backup strategy.
“That’s right. If we were only looking at the class points ahead of us, that would be fine. However, if Ayanokoji-kun performed his best from the start, what would his state be now? No, to put it more clearly, what would his future be like?”
In response to Keisei’s distrust, Horikita did not waver from the situation and took the fight straight with her improvisation in her explanation.
She was so fluent it was as if she had planned all this from the beginning.
“What would his future be like...?”
As Keisei didn’t understand, he repeated the question, so Horikita began to elaborate.
“Let’s take what Yukimura-kun said and assume Ayanokoji-kun would have done his best since last April. If it were the case, then by May, Sakayanagi-san, Ichinose-san, and Ryuen-kun would have heard his name. If they ignored the student who ranked highest in math in the entire year, it would eventually become an obstacle for their class in the future. It would not be surprising if someone made a move in order to expel him from school.”
“So, you’re saying he might become an easy target for anyone?”
“Yes. Anything can happen at this school. After all, there was an exam that expelled students forcefully through a class vote within the class. And, at that time, Ayanokoji-kun was at risk of dropping out because of Sakayanagi-san’s strategy. Even though it was when he had average scores and coincidentally was chosen as a substitute, there’s a possibility he was being targeted.”
Horikita said, depending on the situation, I might have been the one who was expelled from the school instead of Yamauchi.
“No, it’s not fully convincing me what you had just said. If Kiyotaka was serious and revealed his actual strength from the beginning, and even if we had to place him and Yamauchi at different ends of the scale, the result would be as clear as day.”
“I wonder if, to avoid being expelled, Yamauchi-kun had been more careful in making his moves, and Sakayanagi-san’s strategy would have been more complex and difficult to understand. Besides, Yamauchi-kun would have at least had more friends close to him than Ayanokoji-kun. So, with things on both sides of the balance, different opinions would follow that change.”
If she keeps on discussing like this, she’ll just be talking over each other so that Keisei couldn’t go any further.
Even if Keisei looked on one of the other exams, the logic would be the same.
“...So why are you revealing his abilities right now? If you reveal his strength without taking any precautions, then the results would be the same, right? Since you suddenly revealed his strength to everyone at this point, he could also become an easy target for everyone in the future.”
Keisei thought there was no difference between the risks of revealing my abilities from the beginning and doing it now.
But Horikita, who seemed to expect a similar question from him, responded without showing any signs of panic...
“No, there’s a significant difference between showing his strength a year ago and revealing his strength now. In the past few months, our class D unity has grown tremendously, and each of us has grown in individual strength. We’ve been in a position to make the right decisions.”
I’m sure if he looked at himself a year ago, Keisei would have seen the same thing.
“It’s not just a case of Ayanokoji-kun. Let’s say...I think it’s easier to understand the example of Sudo-kun, who isn’t here because of his club activities. Compared to last year, he was nothing but a difficult student to face, no doubt the biggest burden for our class. But what about now? Though there are still some remnants in his wild nature, he has improved his progress dramatically. In terms of academic ability, he is constantly growing. And in addition to his excellent physical skills, his evaluation at the OAA in May is even higher than your evaluation, Yukimura-kun.”
Keisei has still secured a top spot in April, but Sudo turned the table with this exam.
Horikita hits Keisei with the indisputable fact that Sudo had a better overall evaluation score at the OAA.
“Did Yukimura-kun or I have sufficient ability and intent to protect Sudo-kun when we first entered the school?”
For all those students who were discussing if they should or shouldn’t abandon Sudo and didn’t even bother to consider how to save him, would they seriously try to protect a classmate? However, if Sudo were in trouble at this moment, Keisei and others would rack their brain cells to think of some kind of strategy to protect him from dropping out of school.
“But now, if someone is targeting Ayanokoji-kun, we could work together to protect him. That’s how I’ve judged it. And that’s why I revealed Ayanokoji-kun’s actual strength and started raising the overall strength of our class.”
However, more than half of the students had several doubts in their minds regarding what she had said.
On the other hand, Horikita didn’t have sufficient stuff to convince everything.
Since the whole story was made up of lies, it was inevitable that it would come out at certain times.
Of course, this didn’t stop the other students in the class from attacking for now.
However, things would be different if we had stronger support.
When I confirmed most of the attention had shifted to Horikita, I looked at Yosuke.
A boy who has complete faith in the class.
Even though Yosuke was listening to Horikita’s explanation, he occasionally pretended to look around while watching me. Then, judging that I would not be exposed, he looked me in the eye.
Just like the other classmates, there were many things I did not tell Yosuke. If it were any other student, they would probably be slightly suspicious of me as Keisei and the others and would join them in asking me difficult questions. Still, I had nothing to worry about from Yosuke’s side.
He would give the highest priority to things that would be most beneficial for the class.
In the current situation, even if I didn’t have to say anything, he was clear about what he had to do.
“I understand, even a little, this backup strategy of Horikita. On that basis, I have another question. Is Ayanokoji only outstanding in math?”
“I cannot comment on this topic at this time.”
Horikita calmly answered Keisei’s question.
“The student known as Ayanokoji Kiyotaka, has demonstrated his full extent of ability, or is he still holding back? No matter what the real truth is, we can hide it to ensure that Ayanokoji-kun remains unknown to the other classes.”
“So, this is the whole story behind Ayanokoji-kun’s perfect score in math. I’m quite convinced about what Horikita-san is trying to say.”
Exactly as Keisei was about to put pressure on Horikita with another question, he was unexpectedly hit by Yosuke, who had been watching him from the beginning.
And then Yosuke slowly moved to Horikita’s side.
“I didn’t understand the situation before, so I’ve been listening to your discussion. One enemy with foreign assets can indeed be dangerous. Later, it might be the case where other classes will send someone as a spy to gather more information about an individual student of our class or class D as a whole. But even if our class members don’t know what the real truth is, it wouldn’t make sense to continue digging.”
Yosuke would fill in the gaps in the discussion while providing additional information to understand those students around him easily.
When Horikita assumed Yosuke was her ally, she quickly agreed and continued the conversation.
“Yes. Anyway, it’s certain to attract attention in the future, so let’s make the best of it. It’s in our best interest to make our opponents think he’s a person of unknown strength. There might be students outside listening to us right now. It’s that kind of school we’re in right now.”
Everyone suddenly looked towards the hallway. Was the student known as Ayanokoji only good at math, or did his excellence reach the other subjects as well? By creating doubt in the other classes by debating the number of threats that should be considered. After considering Yosuke’s statement, Horikita’s words became more convincing.
“Horikita-san is really good, isn’t she? I’m a little touched.”
At that moment, Kei said a distracting statement to support her point.
“Don’t you think so too, Shinohara-san?”
Then she looked for agreement from her friend, Shinohara.
I think she was trying to push up Horikita’s point of view and divert others’ attention away from the fact they were only focusing on my strength. Although I had never given her a sign or instructions as I gave to Yosuke, she instantly understood what she had to do and acted independently.
“That’s true! I’ve always felt Horikita-san and Ayanokoji-kun are talking to each other, but I guess they’re thinking about our class strategy.”
At the beginning of the school year, Horikita hadn’t talked much with anyone other than me.
This fact is now strong proof that she is working on a strategy.
I think this made the story sound a little more believable.
How brilliantly Yosuke and Kei covered for us had a remarkable effect. The group mentality of If Yosuke and the others think it’s true, then it must be true was also working very well.
“A strategy of hiding one’s strength... surely, the other classes must be quite shocked by now.”
Even Keisei, who’d been suspicious until now, became no exception.
“At a time, even though I didn’t fully grasp the situation of this school, I thought having an insurance plan is always good. I don’t know if this is fortunate or unfortunate, but Ayanokoji-kun is poor at communicating and doesn’t like to stand out. For those reasons, I also wanted him to hide his strength.”
Horikita said we talk about the strategy which was made because we both have the same intentions.
Then she looked away from Keisei and addressed the entire class.
“This is the secret of how Ayanokoji-kun got a perfect score in math. Sorry to surprise you all.”
In a situation where there was no way to fix things, Horikita had successfully managed to get through to the end. But if I let the students linger on for too long, there is no guarantee they will have doubts again.
“For now, I think it’s best to end this conversation here and now. As Horikita-san said, the walls have ears. We don’t know who is listening to us.”
Yosuke wrapped the discussion fairly and explained why it would be bad for our class to keep talking about this situation. The smarter the student, the more questions remain in their mind, but the smarter the student, the quicker they understand this isn’t the right place to talk about sensitive things. The fact Keisei, who had been asking questions all along, has shut up is proof of that.
In a way, it could be considered this discussion had succeeded in deflecting a certain amount of suspicion from everyone.
And thanks to Horikita’s accomplishments that exceeded my imagination, it would be easier for me to act in the future.
Even if I showed my actual strength outside of mathematics, it could be explained by the fact I had been hiding it. The preparation Horikita did here was crucial.
Honestly, I am grateful to her for dealing with the situation without even getting prepared beforehand.
It was finally the end of the school day, which was much later than usual, and the students dispersed one after another.
I want to express my gratitude to Horikita and Yosuke at some other time. However, as the discussion was over in the class, Horikita was the first student who left the classroom. Following her actions, Yosuke went while having a lighter conversation with Kei and other girls. And when they started to leave the classroom, as usual, I picked up my bag and mixed with everyone else, and I went out into the hall.
It would have been considered a day over... But as I judged the current situation, it didn't look so simple.
Even if it was enough for most of the students in the second-year class to know what Horikita and the others had just said, it was a different story when it came to my personal problems.
Some students immediately followed me after I left the classroom. I knew they were members of the Ayanokoji group. At the back, among the approaching students, there was someone in the front whose footsteps sounded intense. There was no need to look back to confirm how much frustration Keisei had built up due to this perfect math score situation.
I pretended not to notice their presence and kept walking forward towards the direction of the dormitory. After a while, Keisei called me.
I slowed down my pace when I was called by Keisei and looked towards the source of the voice.
As I looked back, the other two members of the Ayanokoji group, Airi and Haruka, still had somewhat stiff expressions on their faces.
"You are going back to the dormitory without even saying hello to fellow group members. Isn't it a little cruel, Kiyopon?"
Hasabe Haruka, the most outspoken member of the group, spoke out loudly.
On behalf of the two people, she said, Keisei, who is at the front and somehow had a grim face, and the worried Airi at the back.
This seemed somehow significant. Since the nervous Keisei was about to explode, his thoughts kept his mouth shut for the moment.
After taking a breath, Keisei spoke again.
"Why didn't you tell us regarding your actual strength before? If this matter was to hide the information as Horikita said earlier, does it mean you don't have trust in us at all?"
Although he acknowledged Horikita's claims to some extent, he was still dissatisfied at some point.
It's no wonder.
It was like I was crushing Keisei's feelings because he would be trying to teach me how to study seriously and sympathetically in the past.
Since it was clear at this point, Haruka and Airi were following him as well.
The easiest way to end this matter was to blame all these points on Horikita.
But I couldn't afford to do something like her, since she had crucially helped me a moment ago.
No, this feeling of kindness was unnecessary. It was time to think about the future.
Keisei is an excellent student, and he was not among the students who are slowest in terms of judging the surrounding situations accurately. But if he couldn't truly accept this situation, it would be a heavy mental burden. And if he can't perform well in upcoming special exams due to his mental burden pressure, it will be harmful to the second-year class D. It wouldn't be helpful to Horikita as well, who is the leader of class D.