My Self Insert Stash Book Chapter 476 | MSIS chapter-476
-Right in the kokoro man, I genuinely enjoyed this fic! You can't help but believe that it's cannon/
Synopsis: Yukinoshita Yukino's perspective on events in the series.
Posted on: fanfiction.net/s/10342836/1/My-Adolescent-Romantic-Comedy-Is-Incorrect-As-I-Had-Logically-Proven (SnowPlow)
PS: If you're not able to copy/paste the link, you have everything in here to find it, by simply searching the author and the story title. It sucks that you can't copy links on mobile ()
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Chapter 1-3 (exceptional)
During the events of Volume 7 Chapter 9: His and her confession won't reach anyone
The night was cool. Upon exhalation, white clouds would puff out of my mouth. The wind blew silently, ruffling my long black hair, throwing them in disarray. I and Yuigahama stood far back in the cover of the trees. Hikigaya left the cover and quietly walked toward the two who would meet.
"Hey, Yukinon, it will work out, right?" quivered Yuigahama.
"Don't be ridiculous. Of course it won't work out." I said while shrugging.
Ebina showed no interest in Tobe beyond the level of friends during the entire field trip, despite our best efforts, and neither did Ebina ever treat him that way in the past. Therefore, Tobe's confession would definitely fail to produce any good fruits. It was up to Hikigaya to make this work. Honestly, though, I doubt Hikigaya's actions would do anything but provide damage control.
Finally, Tobe and Ebina stood face-to-face.
Tobe began studdering, "U-um, you see, I..."
Ebina had an extremely cold expression and Tobe's shoulders were shaking violently. Anyone could see the logical outcome. What was to come next should have been as I had predicted.
"I've liked you since a long time ago. Please go out with me."
But Tobe kept his lips closed as those words were said. No, Tobe definitely did not say those words.
It was Hikigaya.
"I'm sorry. I don't really want to date anyone right now. No matter who confesses to me, I definitely won't go out with any of them. If that's all, I'll be going back now," stated Ebina with a stony expression.
After she said that, Ebina turned around and quietly retreated, leaving Hikigaya and Tobe behind. I see. It was going to be a failed confession anyway. Therefore, Hikigaya confessed to Ebina before Tobe could. The result was the same. However, this meant Tobe would not have to suffer through a failed confession. Hikigaya bared the full brunt of the embarrassment, dissatisfaction, and sadness for Tobe. So, this was Hikigaya's plan, the result of his resolution. A logical conclusion.
"Why?" I muttered under my breath.
Why were my own shoulders shaking? Why was I so angry?
Tobe looked as if he were about to cry and walked in the opposite direction of Ebina. Hikigaya sauntered back to us with his hands in his pockets. His eyes were pointed toward the ground. Both the hair and the darkness of the forest hid his expression. I glared at him.
"I hate how you do things," I said, lashing out at him before I could take back my words.
My heart smoldered, yet the source of the fire was unclear. I was on the verge of tears, but the reason for it was not known to me.
"I can't explain it very well and it's really irritating but I really hate how you do things," I spat.
"Yukinon..." said Yuigahama as she attempted to reach her hand out to me, but dropped it.
Hikigaya took on the blame, just like during the festival. To him, it did not matter how he carried out as long as it provided a satisfying result. He had a complete disregard for morals, kindness or respect. Whatever happened to the people in question, to related people, or even to himself, was not considered. Hikigaya's plans never compromised. They were the absolute worst.
"I'll be going back first," I said in a low voice.
I turned around and headed away from Hikigaya. My feet carried me quickly, as far away as possible. I kept moving away without a destination, for I didn't want to be there at all.
I always thought that I was a cold, logical machine - a logical monster. I thought that it wasn't possible for me to get worked up like this. I thought I could use something up and throw it away without any attachment. I always thought that Hikigaya desired something precious and unbreakable more than anything, more than anyone else. I always thought that Hikigaya had a line that he could not cross, for he held onto that desire for that precious thing.
I was wrong. Hikigaya's true nature was nothing like what I thought it was. It was him that was the logical monster. He would willingly embrace all that was false, all that was vicious, if it was for the sake of his plans.
To be faced with the incarnation of what you thought you were rattled you to the very bones. But what was even worse was having the image of the person who you thought you knew being forcibly shattered, revealing that they were that incarnation all along.
I bit my lip and began sprinting far far away from it all, and from Hikigaya Hachiman.
During Volume 8 Chapters 1 and 2
I brought the steaming mug to my lips. The scathing hot black liquid was revolting to my tongue and rejecting to my throat. Bitter.
I was not the type to skimp on breakfast. I fully recognized the benefits of eating an early, energizing meal, especially for being someone of low stamina. During the day of the last time that I had not eaten breakfast, my right hand had hardly enough energy to even write with.
However, my daily ritual of a proper breakfast was violated today. Other than the mug of black coffee, the only morsels of food in front of me were a single slice of buttered toast and a banana.
I did not feel lazy today at all. I did all of the things that could be mechanically done. Yet, when it came to tasks requiring a certain degree of, for a lack of a better term, passion choosing clothes, cooking I did not perform well.
I crunched into the slice of toast. It ground into annoyingly dry pieces in my mouth that sucked in all of my saliva. The overly rich and fatty taste of butter made the bolus difficult to swallow.
I sighed. I rubbed my face to make sure that I was still there.
I felt something like a heavy chunk of lead weighing down the chambers of my heart. That feeling had pervaded me day and night for the last few days no matter what I did. Even if I momentarily distracted myself by reading a book or watching a cat video, that feeling would return without weakening.
I knew the source of that deadening weight. Yet, I would be unable to describe precisely what the weight itself was.
I was only sure of the following. I was wrong, but Hikigaya Hachiman was even more wrong.
My meal became completely undesirable after I began thinking of those things again. I returned the banana to my bowl of fruits. I threw the remaining portions of the toast into the garbage can. I splashed the remainder of my coffee into the sink and forcibly doused the blackness with tap water until it was all gone.
I hated lies. I always thought that deception was worthless. Whatever you obtained by deceiving someone would surely be fleeting and fragile.
In that case, what could be said about myself, whose anger welled up upon Hikigaya's deception, which I should have been expecting from the beginning? What could be said about the fact that I was so devastated about being wrong?
I had inflicted onto myself the very thing that I was supposed to have hated. The very things that I had thought were all acts of self-deception.
I began washing the plates and the mug. Because I was deep in thought, I accidentally let the mug slip through my slippery soapy fingers.
The mug clattered onto the floor and ceased to be a mug. Clay shards of variable sizes flew away in unpredictable directions. Spontaneously. Just like that.
Classes were a chore. All of the material covered today in all of my classes were simply boring. Nothing was particularly challenging for me, one who has built herself up strongly in academics because she did not have a single friend to ask for help.
Going to the Service Club after school had long since cemented in me as an automatic routine. It did not require me to think of anything complex. I was thankful for that. I was not in the mood for puzzles.
The moment I entered the clubroom, I dropped my bag off at the usual spot, took the kettle and exited the room to fill it with water at the usual place. When I returned to the room, I immediately plugged it into the wall, flipped the switch to the ON position, extracted my book from my bag, settled down, and opened the book.
I did not read. I picked up the words with my eyes and processed them with my brain, before archiving them. I obtained the objective outline of the plot. That was the most the current me could do. I completely glossed over the theme, and I felt no attachment to the characters. I neither liked the book nor hated it. I performed the proper motions, again, without putting much thought into it.
The door was rudely opened by Yuigahama, who arrived with punctuality. Her customary, barbaric greeting was tinged with a hint of awkwardness.
"Come in. I'll prepare the tea," I said, as usual.
Right after I said that, the kettle began to whistle. Using the now boiling water, I performed the tea-making motions that were even more instinctive than going to the clubroom.
"Um, Yukinon, I brought cookies today. Should I get them?" meekly asked Yuigahama.
"Of course," I said, giving Yuigahama a formal smile, "You don't need to ask. We always have them anyway."
I distributed the tea in our respective cups. Then, I sat back down and picked up my book again, opening it to where I left off. Yuigahama had already began tapping the screen of her smartphone.
"Say, Yukinon, how is everything?" murmured Yuigahama.
"Good, as usual. Except "
The words that I was supposed to say did not manage to transmit themselves. I dropped my head and stared at my hands. They were curled up into fists that shook uncontrollably.
What could I say? What exactly could I speak of that would make sense to Yuigahama? The things that I could say would only make me sound like a bratty child.
I sighed out a lung's worth of breath and looked up at Yuigahama. Her hands were clasped together at her chest as she stared worriedly at me with a held breath.
"No, it's nothing. I'm just a little uneasy. That's all," I said quietly while shaking my head.
"Ahaha... Maybe you're still queasy after the field trip or something," carelessly spoke Yuigahama.
I frowned. It was obvious that Yuigahama would try to talk about what happened on the field trip. It may not even be entirely incorrect to say that the purpose of her coming to the club today was solely to talk about it. How much she wanted to do so was evident by her unusually miserable attempt at sneaking the topic into our conversation.
I did not add anything following Yuigahama's words. I simply tore my eyes away from her and switched them over to the clock. Fifteen after.
"You know, Yukinon, I... I didn't like it either, so, you know," vaguely muttered Yuigahama.
I turned toward her again. She was fiddling with the bun of hair on her head.
"But Hikki did what he could do, so, I mean yeah," incomprehensibly muttered Yuigahama.
I spoke in a low voice, "What he did could definitely not be called good."
Yuigahama continued to stumble over her words, "It's just, it's just that he doesn't really understand this thing, even though he understands everything else, so, so, I mean, that's why it was like that."
I was well aware of Hikigaya's twisted way of understanding. He was completely unable to comprehend what should have been normal because he was denied the right to live normally. Because he was constantly rejected, he became immersed in all of the ideas and methods that were rejected by those considered normal. Decency no longer became a requirement for him. When it came time to take action, whatever was cruel, whatever was unjust, was never eliminated in his repertoire.
How could he understand that what he did was wrong? It was simply not in his nature.
"Even so, it's not something that can be forgiven easily. Ignorance has its limits," I clearly spoke.
I did not intend to overlook this. No, I could definitely not turn a blind eye to this. What Hikigaya did had never stopped gnawing at the fringes of my being which detested deception.
"Even though it's like this, can't you um, like, I'm sure it was hard on Hikki too, so you don't have to be like that on him too, or something," awkwardly spoke Yuigahama.
I did not respond. I merely closed my eyes and rested my hands on the table. If I were to speak something, if I were to allow myself to form an expression on my face, I would definitely blurt out something irrational, something that I could not take back.
Yuigahama slowly spoke, "I-I mean, it's not like you have to agree with him. I don't like it at all, either. It's just that"
I opened my eyes. The first thing that entered my vision was the clock showing twenty-five after, a time far beyond late, to the point of sure absence of a certain individual. I, once again, faced the sole attendee of this club. She was looking downwards.
"Just what?" I said, urging her to finish.
"It's already too much that Hikki is like that. If you... if we're like that to him too, then"
Yuigahama did not finish her words. No, she was forcibly stopped. At that moment, the door was flung open, and the door knob thrashed into the wall. Our attention was wrenched toward the direction of that senselessness.
The senseless one who appeared before us was Hikigaya Hachiman.
Without any one of us exchanging even a suppressed murmur or greeting, Hikigaya, with an apathetic look, made his way to his usual chair at the maximum possible distance across from me. Just like always, he immediately rummaged through his bag and extracted his book from it.
I felt something like rising magma within me. Hikigaya's display of defiance, a show of accepting the unacceptable, threatened me to do something careless like a spurt of lava.
I was unable to suppress the bare minimum of words from leaving my lips, "...So you came after all."
"Yep, as you can see," said Hikigaya without bothering to move his eyes away from his book.
I tore my eyes away from him. My vision came to focus on the cover of my book on the table. Uninteresting.
No further words were spoken for a while. The mood was like a trap waiting to be sprung. Hikigaya did not care to make a move at all. Yuigahama fiddled around as if she was prodding the mechanism of a trap. I merely sat still in a static posture waiting for time to advance.
How utterly pointless. Pointlessness was detestable.
Tick tock. The clock continued to advance to thirty after and even forty after. The dreadful stalemate continue to linger between the one who accepted a situation like this, the one whose hand was waiting for the right timing, and the one who did not dare to express herself.
Finally, as if testing the waters, Yuigahama took a shallow breath and began speaking, "Ah, speaking of which, everyone was acting really normal. Um, that is... everyone..."
Her voice gradually became more and more diminutive, as if she was half retreated, half exposed.
"...Right. Just looking at them gives me the impression that there's nothing wrong," muttered Hikigaya.
"I see," I said with narrowed eyes, "Then, that's fine."
I did not dispute the effectiveness of his methods. I did not doubt that Hayama's group dynamics remained fine in the end. Yet, in solving it, something important that I did not know the identity of was thrown away. With regards to that, I was definitely not fine with it.
"I mean, it was a little scary, but I didn't really have anything to worry about. Everyone's just... just normal," said Yuigahama.
She spoke the word "normal" with an entirely unconvinced tone. Were they truly normal deep down? Were they merely acting normal while hiding contempt?
Yuigahama laughed powerlessly while stroking her hair bun.
"I don't really know what everyone's thinking about anymore," sullenly spoke Yuigahama, "Everyone is... I just don't know."
"That's how it was originally," I said while shaking my head, "There's no way we'd understand what they'd be thinking about anyway."
The very words that left my lips left behind a bitter aftertaste.
At my words, Yuigahama showed an incredibly pained expression. To her, it was far worse than a bad taste. After all, the people in question, though not close to me, were dear to Yuigahama.
I continued, "Besides, even if people knew what others were thinking about, whether or not the people will understand it is a different problem."
My throat felt awfully dry. I drank my tea that had long since lost its heat. The usual tea that I was fond of did not quench my thirst in the slightest.
"Sounds about right," muttered Hikigaya.
I glared at him. Hikigaya, himself, was a person who was never understood. I did not understand him. I would never be able to understand how he could justify to himself the value of his methods.
He sighed before continuing, "Well, you don't need to worry about it too much. As long as we act like normal, then that would be for the best, right?"
Hikigaya smiled pathetically, like a cynic.
"We should act normal too... yeah..." Yuigahama tested those words in her mouth.
Yuigahama nodded weakly, as if having no choice but to accept. Hikigaya nodded back, as if telling her that nothing else could be done.
Normal. To be within a certain range of the mean. To not deviate much from what's expected. Even if it forces you to lie, just act like usual and go through the accepted routines. That was what Hikigaya was suggesting. He abided by this guideline from the start as he showed up to club even when he knew that he had done something despicable, something that both Yuigahama and I hated.
"Normal... I see, to you, that would be normal," I slowly spoke.
To be truthful, to be true to yourself and to others, those were clichd, and idealistic desires of mine. To me, brutal honesty was far superior to a beautiful lie.
What was Hikigaya's original purpose in attending the club? Though not by his own will, it was to cause a change in himself. Yet, even calling the progress slow was already glorifying it. He continued to stick to his own twisted ways, even taking them to new extremes.
His stubbornness in sticking to his worst possible methods was something that was incomprehensible.
I sighed and spoke, "You won't change, is that it?"
Hikigaya wordlessly opened his mouth not to speak but to show slight surprise.
There was something that I did not say, that I needed to say. I, too, was stubborn. I definitely need to point out the wrong in all of this.
I started, "You... um..."
I gripped my skirt so tightly that my nails deeply dug into my palm. My head felt dizzy as I forced myself to think as hard as I could and to let loose words.
I had to say something. I definitely had to. I
Could not formulate a single cohesive sentence. I could think of nothing that made sense even though I, overall, felt that it was wrong.
What was I afraid of? Why couldn't I pinpoint exactly what I hated so much about it? I hated lies, but what part about Hikigaya's lie made me grow angry at him to the point where I could no longer stand his presence?
Yuigahama slammed her mug on the table and bolted upwards.
"Y-Yukinon! Um, um, um, you see"
She sputtered absolute nonsense. Her goal was clearly not to communicate something. She only managed to succeed in drawing our attention to herself, which was her goal. She sought only to deter me from saying something. Just like Hikigaya, she was sweeping something under the rug.
My fists continue to shake. I was feeling something close to displeasure, but more like betrayal. Somewhere along the line, I had come to assume that Yuigahama and Hikigaya would not keep things under wraps. I was mistaken.
Silence dominated. Hikigaya continued to look at me and Yuigahama with defiant eyes. Yuigahama continually open and closed her mouth, searching for something to say, but ultimately arriving at nothing. I searched as well to continue with earlier, but the heaviness in my stomach prevented me from finding anything as well.
Suddenly, knocks were heard from the door. Our heads turned towards it, but none of us stood up. None of us could move.
The impatient one on the other side of the door rapped it again several times. Coming to his senses, Hikigaya barely spoke.
"Coming in," said our guest.
Hiratsuka marched into our room as if it was her property. The triumphant look on her face revealed her troublesome intent to push onto us another problem.
"I'm here with a request for you guys," Hiratsuka animatedly spoke.
She flashed us her crudest grin, but none of us was in the mood. Hiratsuka retracted her smile and tilted her head in blatant confusion.
"But... Did something happen?" she said in amazement.
Yuigahama averted her eyes, finding it difficult to explain anything to Hiratsuka. Similarly, I had nothing to say. I merely closed my eyes to indicate my unwillingness.
The most level-headed person in the room, Hikigaya, curtly responded to Hiratsuka, "No, nothing at all."
I re-opened my eyes and saw Hiratsuka frown.
She suggested, "Maybe I should come back some other time?"
Hikigaya shook his head in resignation and said, "Well, we don't mind either way."
We were too strained at the moment to be seriously tackling any requests. Yet, Hikigaya had decided to accept it regardless because he would not try to fix the things that he had broken with Yuigahama and me. If he were to do so, that would mean he would deny his past actions and regard them as incorrect. No, Hikigaya was far too stubborn for that.
No matter how things turned out between us, all that mattered to him was the result. To him, even if the side consequences were horrible, he did not mind it. He would simply accept it as the normal by-product of his methods. Hiratsuka had intended to leave and come back at a time when we were back to normal. Hikigaya had basically told her that what she saw was the new normal.
"...I see," bitterly spoke Hiratsuka.
She sighed deeply as if she had an inkling of our current situation. The wrinkles on her forehead creased together.
Yuigahama asked, "Sensei, was there something you need?"
"Ah, right... You can come in."
A voice from the outside softly spoke, "Excuse me."
Entering the room was a girl with cute, braided pigtails and fluffy hair to match her fluffy personality. Although she could be said to be as airy as cotton, she was not a person to be underestimated. After all, this person, Shiromeguri Meguri the student council president, held much in past achievements.
Shiromeguri started, "We had a request, so"
As Shiromeguri spoke, another girl appeared from the doorway. Unlike Shiromeguri's bountiful fluffiness, this girl's hair was straight and short. Their healthy flaxen colour spoke of the care that this girl put into her outward appearance. Her impish face had a shade less of maturity than the people I usually came into contact with. She must be a first year student.
She faced us and shyly smiled. I gauged her attitude as she gauged ours. When her eyes met with mine, she gave me a carefully calculated friendly smile complete with the countenance of a seemingly harmless rabbit.
"Ah, Iroha-chan," said Yuigahama with familiarity.
"Yui-senpai, hellooo~," greeted this Iroha girl.
"Ah, so you're an acquaintance with Isshiki-san. Why don't we skip the introductions, then?" suggested Shiromeguri.
Judging from Hikigaya's annoyed, I-don't-want-to-deal-with-this glare, he was not well-acquainted with this Iroha Isshiki. No, judging by Yuigahama's friendliness, Iroha should be the first name, while Isshiki was her family name.
I was not acquainted with Isshiki Iroha either. Yet, I vaguely managed to recognize her appearance, and her name did not sound completely unknown to me. It was probably during the judo tournament where I saw and heard of her, though we never talked face-to-face.
Hikigaya looked toward Shiromeguri to urge her to start talking about her request with impatience.
"Do you know about the upcoming student council election?" she asked.
Hikigaya transitioned to a clueless face at that question. Yuigahama did not look very sure either.
I would never have expected those two to know anything about the student council. Yuigahama was not the type of person to be well-informed. The organization that mandates order within the school would have been repulsive to Hikigaya, someone who was socially unfit and whose valuation on order was far below his valuation on results.
Unlike those two, I kept up to date with the workings of Sobu. I was not particularly personally interested. It was out of a sense of duty or obligation as a student.
"Yes. I believe it was already announced," I replied, "I think the running candidates should have been as well."
"You sure know your stuff, Yukinoshita," praised Shiromeguri without restraint, "Yep, yep, aside from the secretary not having a candidate, everything else was announced. We were supposed to do the election a long time ago, but there was a lack of candidates, so it was postponed. And, without a suitable successor to the seat of the president, I can't retire in peace too..."
Shiromeguri glanced downward in self-depreciation. I doubted that anyone actually blamed her for anything, nor was she the cause of the lack of interest. In fact, her own reign should have inspired at least a few people to join the student council.
Hiratsuka chimed in, "The school more or less left it up to Shiromeguri, you see. That is, her replacement was supposed to have been chosen by the time of the athletic festival, but"
If you were too busy, then it couldn't be helped. Perhaps that was what Hiratsuka was trying to say.
"Oh no, not at all! Since the school I was recommended to is set in stone, the exams didn't really matter all that much," said Shiromeguri as she vigorously shook her head.
That was quite problematic. Everything had a cost. The cost of Shiromeguri fulfilling her duty to manage the athletic festival and perhaps studying was not finding a presidential candidate. Although I had some problems with the improper balancing of short term and long term goals, now was not the time nor place to berate Shiromeguri for it, especially since she likely did what she thought was best.
Shiromeguri continued, "Ah. Right, right, I should explain everything, hm? Anyway, for my last job as president, I will be working, along with all of the current student council members, in the election administration committee."
Candidates do not also manage the administration for the election. That meant that there would be no possibility that the current members, who decided to do the administration, would run for their seats again. The subtraction of that many candidates was substantial. It contributed greatly to the lack of them.
Shiromeguri went on to say that the edicts have already been done. That meant that the candidates, however few they amounted to, have already been decided.
"Isshiki is a candidate for the student council president," explained Shiromeguri.
Isshiki did not look particularly proud or excited of it when Shiromeguri said that. Rather, her devious smile was tinged with a hint of annoyance. Hikigaya stared at her in doubt.
Noticing Hikigaya's stare, Isshiki joked, "Ah, did you think I was totally not fit for the role or something?"
"Ah, n-no, not really," stuttered Hikigaya.
Dissatisfied, Isshiki pouted, "I get told that a looot, so I more or less know what they're saying. Like I look dumb or super dense or something."
Despite her words, it was definitely more likely that Isshiki was anything but dumb or dense. Rather, as a fellow female, I could tell that she was cunning. Given the way she had acted, she would have likely used her cute looks and needy attitude to take advantage of boys starved for attention from the opposite s.e.x. If you could ignore her attractiveness, then it was easy to the selfishness behind the honey.
In other words, Isshiki had the qualities of a temptress. The way that she would take advantage of others was, unfortunately, somewhat reminiscent of my sister.
"...So, may I ask what the problem is?" I spoke.
So far, we only knew the background information, not the actual problem itself. I could not see what was wrong from this. If anything, the position of president would grant more power to Isshiki to further her own selfish desires.
"Isshiki is a candidate for the student council president, but, that is, how should I put it...?" said Shiromeguri, "She wants to avoid being elected."
Hikigaya narrowed his eyes and bluntly spoke, "In short, you want her to lose the election?"
In response, Shiromeguri awkwardly nodded her head with reluctance. I would like to believe that the reason for this was not nearly as cynical as the way that Hikigaya put it.
"Um, so you don't want to be the president?" asked Yuigahama in confirmation.
Isshiki replied, "Ah, yes. That's right."
A person who did not want to run for president ended up running for president. No matter how many times I tossed that fact around in my mind, I could not get rid of the sense of ridiculousness. The types of causes of it could not have been anything beautiful.
"So, why did you become a candidate?" I interrogated Isshiki.
"Um, I kinda didn't want to," she nervously spoke, "I, er, I was kinda forced into it on a whim or something. I, like, stand out a lot, you see? I keep hearing about how I get along with Hayama-senpai and other senpais, and like, since I'm the manager of the soccer club, that image ended up getting stuck to me."
"Are you getting bullied?" instantly asked Hikigaya.
Disturbingly, both Hikigaya and I arrived at that conclusion, although he voiced it out before I did. Undoubtedly, Hikigaya's twistedness had its roots in the evils of others bullying. Such treatment was not foreign to myself either. Yet, how our present selves were shaped from it were completely different. My methods completely avoided the kind of lying and slander that plagued me in the past. Hikigaya's methods had no problems with their use as the evils he had experienced had already become normalized within him.
"Oh, I wouldn't say that, but it's like getting too overboard or something," smoothly spoke Isshiki, "Like when my classmates gather around, they keep poking at me and stuff. So like, I think this way is the same way or something~"
I could tell immediately that Isshiki was tip-toeing around the heart of the matter. That shrewdness of hers, coupled with her advantageous position in contact with the upper hierarchs, would easily earn her enemies, especially (or possibly even exclusively) among the girls. Just like in some of my own cases, the root cause must have been envy.
Isshiki chuckled lightly as if it wasn't a big deal. This, too, was calculated. Unfortunately, if she was going to act like that, to try and use her charms even on us, then she would not get any of my sympathies.
Yuigahama asked, "Can you just randomly get into running for candidacy like that?"
Hiratsuka spoke in exasperation, "When the candidacy papers were turned in, the person in charge didn't actually confirm it..."
"Erg... If only we election administrators were more alert," groaned Shiromeguri as she hung her head.
Hiratsuka comforted her, "Well, no one would expect someone to do something like this as a prank. It'd be a little cruel to be blaming the election administration now, wouldn't it?"
Envy was seductive. At times, it could seduce whole hordes of people and tempt them to do something that would even overturn the conventions. As long as the l.u.s.t for revenge was satisfied, even the nonsensical could become possible.
"We even made sure to check the endors.e.m.e.nt list too, though," sullenly added Shiromeguri.
Hikigaya tilted his head and said, "Endors.e.m.e.nt list?"
"Uh huh. To run as a candidate, you need a certain number of endors.e.m.e.nt signatures, and that was satisfied too."
I said in amazement, "Still, this is rather complicated. I believe you needed more than thirty signatures to be qualified."
It was to the point of being scary. The collusion of such a high number of people likely for the sake of bringing down Isshiki was bone-chilling. Isshiki probably felt that everyone was against her. There was no way she actually passed it off as a mere prank.
"That much? I'm surprised they managed to get that much," croaked Yuigahama.
Hiratsuka confirmed, "Of course, we checked it over with the students. Fortunately or unfortunately, all thirty names were authentic."
Hikigaya spat, "Writing their actual names on there, are they idiots or what?"
Hiratsuka shrugged and bitterly responded, "They likely didn't think it'd turn into something important. A deficiency in their imagination, I suppose."
Hatred and malice could cloud and deceive. They would cause a person to ignore all else in their single-minded pursuit for retribution. This deception would become their excuse for acting.
Isshiki and Hiratsuka then talked about how Isshiki's homeroom teacher was strangely stubbornly supportive of Isshiki's run for the president. That also added another layer of difficulty. The weight of a teacher's words rivalled that of the support of the thirty signatures. Even if Isshiki did nothing, with all of this support, she would probably win.
"Then, I guess withdrawing your candidacy might be a little too difficult then," bitterly spoke Hikigaya.
"Uh huh... So, now we're just wondering if we can withdraw at all," said Shiromeguri with a sigh.
In the first place, a candidate wanting to withdraw was an incredibly unusual event. After all, it took significant effort to reach the status of candidacy. Throwing it all away was normally out of the question. It was like embarking on a treasure hunt, then refusing to open the chest after digging it up.
I would not be surprised if the school legislature did not account for such an event. Actually, that might be it.
"Regarding the withdrawal of the candidacy, is it because there isn't anything officially written about it in the election rules?" I questioned Shiromeguri.
"Yukinoshita, you sure know your stuff. That's right, there's nothing written about it in the first place," she lamented.
Yuigahama suggested, "Ah, wouldn't it be enough to say that she can't become the student council president because she's a first year?"
"Eh? Why not?"
Yuigahama was making an erroneous assumption. She must have observed mainly second year students running for president. Unfortunately, repeated observation could only suggest a certain cause or restriction; it was not sufficient evidence.
"That's not in the rules either," explained Shiromeguri, "There aren't any restrictions written down about second years only for student council president."
"Basically, student council presidents tended to be second years out of custom," I added to that.
It could not even be said to be an unwritten rule. Unwritten rules would be looked down upon if broken; there would still be somewhat significant consequences. Isshiki's run for president itself was not wrong in any way, as seen by the support of the teacher and the lack of criticism.
Officially, it was not wrong. Unofficially, it was also not wrong. That removed the option of Isshiki escaping candidacy by disqualification.
Hikigaya looked away from Isshiki and everyone else. His eyes were directed toward the floor, but I could tell that they weren't focused on anything in particular. The fact that he was erasing his attention of everything else, shutting them out, meant that there was only one presence remaining in his mind himself.
Within that secluded mental landscape of his, his eyes became hard, and his mouth morphed into various shapes. He was considering something. He was passing every option available to him through filters of deceitfulness, dreadfulness, and terribleness to gauge their overall effectiveness.
Finally, he nodded to himself. He determinedly looked up toward Isshiki Iroha and Shiromeguri Meguri to reveal to them his method that was set in stone.
"If she doesn't want to do it, then she can just lose the election," firmly proposed Hikigaya, "Actually, that's the only way."
Shiromeguri dropped her eyes and said, "Umm... Actually, the only one running in the election is Isshiki so"
"So that means a vote of confidence," I interrupted, glaring at Hikigaya.
"Right, so it's pretty much set in stone..." said Shiromeguri with a sigh.
As far as I was aware of, I had not heard of anything particularly bad about the current candidate for president. Therefore, with the lack of competition, Isshiki's victory was guaranteed, as long as there was no reason for the students to believe that Isshiki was irresponsible. That is, she would definitely win the vote of confidence.
"Well, if it's just losing, there is a way to do it," started Hikigaya.
Isshiki quickly interrupted, "Like, wait a second, losing a vote of confidence would be supeeeer lame! I mean, a vote of confidence is just lame in the first place... That's too embarrassing. No way!"
Isshiki's outburst was not unwarranted. Sly Isshiki was definitely concerned about her public image, but even for a person who did not particularly mind their image, to be thought of as unreliable would not be good.
Hikigaya, again, thought for a moment. He was finalizing his cruel tricks and traps.
Still dissatisfied with something, Hikigaya asked about some final details, "Only the names of the candidates will be announced, right? Not the endorsers at all."
Shiromeguri replied in a confused tone, "Eh? Yes, that's right."
Turning to Isshiki, he continued asking, "Isshiki, do you have a person to give your campaign speech yet?"
That did it. His cruelty was completed.
"In that case," The mastermind unhesitatingly moved his plan forward "There's one quick and easy method."
"Um, what do you mean?" hesitatingly asked Yuigahama.
"Like I said before, we need to make Isshiki lose the election. In the worst-case scenario, she can just get a vote of no confidence, as long as she doesn't get hurt or lose face in the process. That should be fine. In other words, if they understand that she lost for a reason that was out of her control, that it wasn't her fault, then that should be enough."
Yuigahama asked slowly, as if she her very words were corrosive, "Can you really... Can you really do that?"
Yuigahama's expression was locked with utter pain, with eyes widened in blank astonishment. She was frozen like that, as if a single small motion will upset some balance and toss something into motion again.
"If the campaign speech serves as the reason for her loss, then Isshiki won't be the centre of attention."
Hikigaya continued speaking smoothly until he noticed Yuigahama's state. He swallowed the rest of his words.
Silence enc.u.mbered us. Yuigahama's pupils quivered as if they were unsteady, shaking barriers holding back a flow of tears. Hikigaya hesitated.
The three of us were thinking of the same thing. It would become a repetition of that day in the bamboo forest.
Therefore, my reaction to this was clear. This deceit, this maliciousness was out of the question. Hikigaya had proceeded before without letting us know. This time was different.
"I can't agree with that kind of method," I declared.
With raised eyebrows, Hikigaya muttered, "Your reason being?"
Because I detest it. But I couldn't say that. A statement of my own feelings would never convince this monster of logic. I needed to say something solid.
I resumed, "It's because it's not guaranteed. It's not absolutely certain that she will receive a vote of no confidence. And, you'll definitely cause problems for Isshiki-san with a botched campaign speech. And, even if she loses, will it even be feasible to run another election? Even if there was never such a precedence in the past? And... And also, there was never much interest in the student council in the first place. They won't care if we don't properly announce the vote tallies and announced the results that we wanted. In other words, if there's enough people willing, it can easily be done. See! There's a number of different methods that can be done if we"
I rattled on until I noticed the bewildered stares all around me, which shut me up. It took me a moment to realize that all that I had spewed from my mouth was nonsense. Realizing exactly what I had done and knowing what kind of thing caused it, my entire being felt unsteady.
Hiratsuka gazed at me kindly and said one word.
"...That was rude of me. I'll take that back."
Shiromeguri lightly shook her head, but also with a smile. Shiromeguri's and Hiratsuka's kind reprimands pained me.
How deplorable of me. I was trying so hard to denounce Hikigaya's methods that I even began suggesting alternate, yet similarly undesirable methods. How nonsensical. How illogical. How shocking.
"Hey, about that speech, who's going to do it?" Yuigahama barely voiced, "I don't think I really like that."
I could not see Yuigahama's expression, for her head was bowed so low that it was about to contact the table.
"That's Anyone that's able seems fine to me."
Hikigaya altered his words mid-sentence. It was clear that he was about to suggest himself, but changed the meaning a bit at the last second. Yet, it did not serve its purpose, for, among the three of us, only one person would approve of such methods.
I hated deception. I hated his methods that were full of deception. I thought that over and over as if it were a charm, to remind myself that I would never approve of his methods. I never thought that I would act so irrationally.
Up until now, we have always relied on Hikigaya's ways. We had no alternatives. Yuigahama and I were always at a loss. No, it was that we did not try hard enough. We had no alternatives because we discarded them immediately upon learning of Hikigaya's perspective on it.
How I unquestioningly went along with everything this whole time was exactly like how it was in the past. If it was like that, then it was as if I had no ambition, no power in the first place.
Therefore, this time, I will not rely on him. If I disapproved of his methods, why must I see them through to the end? Why must I discard the alternatives. No, this time I will use those alternatives. I will do the thing that I had only done a few times in the beginning, the thing that I should have kept doing up until now.
"Shiromeguri. In the case where Isshiki-san withdraws from the position, another candidate will be needed, correct?" I inquired.
"Yes, that's right," she confirmed.
I let out a short sigh, expelling any qualms I had, any lingering thoughts of leaving it up to Hikigaya.
Isshiki will have to lose. I had no problems with that result. As I have thought over and over to myself this past day, and since the end of the field trip, the problem was with the method. If Hikigaya's methods were detestable, then the method of the one who was opposed to his methods would surely be the correct one. Such a method would be that of my own.
"Then, the only thing left is to find another candidate and support him so he can win the election," I proposed.
Hikigaya's methods would cause Isshiki to lose by defacing her reputation and would result in a loss for the school since there would be a lack of a president, a lose-lose situation. What I proposed would not only allow Isshiki to retain her reputation through "putting up a good fight", but also allow the election to succeed in nominating a president. It would be a win-win situation.
Yuigahama brightened up, looking pleased with my suggestion.
However, Hikigaya dissented with my plan.
"If there was someone raring to go with the position, then they should have been candidates already. There's clearly something wrong there. Don't tell me you're going to talk to people one-by-one for their support?"
Yuigahama wealky voiced, "But, um, if we just talk to the people who'd help us out, then"
He cut her off, "Fine. So, let's just say that we did find someone willing for the position. But can that person win against this first year here? I'm sure you're already aware, but high school student council elections are essentially popularity votes. Where are you going to find another person that's both popular enough and willing to become president? Another thing. Before the day of the election, there are things like picking cabinet members, promoting the damn campaign, and doing a bunch of other annoying election stuff. Do you actually think that you can do all of that by then? Like hell. You even need to do it all with the intention of going for gold too, you know? If you have something realistic in mind, then by all means. But given our crappy situation, I don't see what it as being possible at all."
Halfway through, Hikigaya's tone transitioned to a highly irritated one. His mouth was contorted, and his fists grinded the top of the table. He looked absolutely terrifying.
Shiromeguri had a hand over her mouth gaping mouth. Isshiki sighed in pure annoyance.
Yuigahama was fully paralyzed. Yet, her fragile, agony-stricken face looked as if it would shatter at any moment.
My ability to form words was temporarily sealed. I felt like I had endured a beating.
It was just
I had glimpsed something that I thought that I should not have seen.
That thought lasted only a moment. I forcibly brought back my previous resolve as to not let it deteriorate.
As if on cue, Hiratsuka, who was leaning on the wall, sprung forward and cheerfully spoke, "Doesn't look like we're getting a solution any time soon."
We were not going to reach an answer today. Hikigaya and I disagreed with each other. We needed to settle this first.
"Shiromeguri, could you come back another time?" I said briefly.
"Eh, ah, okay... Sure, no problem."
Hiratsuka ushered Isshiki and Shiromeguri out of the room. Just before she, herself, was about to step out, I called out to her.
"Hiratsuka-sensei, do you have a moment?" I calmly spoke.
I had an idea of how to settle this. It involved what Hiratsuka had originally intended us to do. However, that purpose was gradually lost by the wayside as our club began to change in an unfortunate direction.
Seeing my serious expression, she complied, "Okay then, let's hear what you have to say."
Hiratsuka helped herself to a seat. Yuigahama and Hikigaya adjusted their seats to properly face her as well as me.
What Yukinoshita Yukino should have been doing will now be resumed.
"There was something that I just remembered."
At the very beginning, after Hikigaya had just joined the club, we entered a competition. The competition would prove which one of us was superior. It would allow us to show directly which one of us was wrong and which one of us was right.
We were beyond the point where mere words can settle this. I needed to show Hikigaya, through action, that his methods were unacceptable.
"Has there been a clear winner so far?" I asked Hiratsuka.
Hiratsuka blinked in confusion. Yuigahama looked like she had no clue what I was speaking of. Hikigaya was also confused for a moment, but then he realized it.
"Um... winner?" muttered Yuigahama.
Hikigaya explained, "It's a match of who can serve people the best or, in other words, who can solve the most problems of others. It doesn't matter who you ask for help in accomplishing the objective. And, if you win, the other person has to do whatever you want them to."
I was never interested in the prize. From the start, I only wanted to peg down Hikigaya's arrogance, to make him realize that he needed to change his ways.
"There was something like that..." spoke Yuigahama in utter surprise.
Hiratsuka looked even more fl.u.s.tered than Yuigahama, as if she had made a mistake.
"I-I wonder huh. W-Well, you know, you guys have been working hard together for the requests and all. Yep. Everyone's doing a nice job, yep."
We have been putting aside the contest for a long time, especially as we worked together, rather than against each other. Though I did not like to leave things unfinished, more importantly, the contest was necessary to sort out Isshiki's request.
I stared hard at Hiratsuka to let her know that there was no sidestepping this.
She sighed in response. She collected her thoughts and began speaking solemnly and seriously like she should have done so in the first place.
"Aside from the first task, you guys have been doing things that I wasn't aware of. Strictly speaking, I'm a little reluctant to give you a proper judgement right now. It's just..."
I urged her to continue, "It's just?"
"My bias and my own personal judgement," brazenly said Hiratsuka, "They will be a part of what I have to say. Essentially, the judgements will be based on my personal and relative opinion on you three alone with no standard of comparison. If you're fine with that, then..."
"I don't mind," I immediately replied.
I had accepted this contest knowing that there would be many problems in the judging process since it was initially casual. However, even though the circ.u.mstances have changed, I did not intend to dispute the nature of the contest which I had contracted myself to.
Besides, there was no other person, other than Hiratsuka, who could judge us. No other teacher was as nosy. She had forced Hikigaya and me together all this time. It was part of her responsibilities to see this through.
"You two are fine with that as well, right?" I asked them.
Hikigaya nodded firmly. Still bewildered, Yuigahama had no choice but to nod.
Hiratsuka declared her judgements, "If we consider results alone, then Hikigaya is one step ahead of the rest of you. If we consider the process and what happens afterwards, then Yukinoshita is ahead. Though, there were also other things that wouldn't have happened if it weren't for Yuigahama's contribution, but..."
Hiratsuka trailed off as if she had run out of things to say. It was a sign of indecisiveness. It was a sign of a stalemate in the competition.
"So that means the match hasn't been decided yet," I stated.
"That's what it comes down to," confirmed Hiratsuka.
It would have been easier had I been more decisively ahead of Hikigaya. No matter. What I needed to do did not change in the slightest.
I readjusted my seating position until I was facing Hiratsuka completely, without a single angular degree of deviation.
"If the match is still ongoing, then there won't be a problem with our opinions being divided this time, correct?"
Yuigahama asked uneasily, "Um, what do you mean?"
I turned my head towards her and, trying my best to keep Hikigaya out of the periphery of my vision, clarified to her, "It means that him and I aren't required to do things the same way."
The normal was not cooperation. Our cooperation so far was the abnormal.
The contest would give me the final push needed to distance myself from Hikigaya's methods. It would give me a reason to use the alternatives. It would force me to put my all into using my own methods and would completely remove any hesitation, any temptation to leave it up to another.
He and I were always alone. That was normal. It became abnormal when we were forced to associate with each other. Along the way, I had become complacent with something, even finding it comfortable. I began losing sight of the sureness, truth, and confidence that I strove for as I felt that I was stepping away from aloneness.
I was returning.
"Well, that seems right. There isn't any point in trying to force ourselves to cooperate if it's not necessary," Hikigaya spoke with a low voice.
"...Yes." I said, still not looking at him.
Hiratsuka appeared conflicted over what I said, as if she had anticipated the outcome of her words. After a few moments, she resignedly sighed.
"You guys... guess there's no helping it. You guys should do as you please, then."
That settled it. We were now divided. What Hikigaya was going to do was none of my concern. Rather, I will make sure that what he does is of little concern.
"Until the request is solved, what about the club?" inquired Hiratsuka.
There was no point in opposing parties to be occupying the same space. It would inhibit the progress of us both.
With something renewed, I turned toward Hikigaya and announced, "You have the freedom to come to the club if you like."
"...Well, that's the correct decision," commented Hiratsuka.
Hikigaya nodded. He grabbed his bag and stood up. His stubbornness was satiated. Whatever he was trying to tell us had been communicated fully. And, he accepted the division without hesitation.
"I'll be heading home then."
Yuigahama noisily stood up as well and tried to stop him, "Ah, w-wait a second!"
Hikigaya stopped her with a glare and said, "You should think about what you should do too."
That's right. I had allowed a division to occur not just between me and Hikigaya, but also between us and Yuigahama.
Yet, I knew for certain that Yuigahama shared the same dissatisfaction as me with regards to Hikigaya. She will be likely supporting me rather than him.
But, as I looked at the motionless Yuigahama who looked like she was about to cry, I felt a small, though nonetheless, splitting regret.
Without another word, Hikigaya briskly turned around and headed for the door. His back told us that he had already decided what to do, that he was fine with it, and that nothing could change his mind.
No matter what, Hikigaya Hachiman will not change.
Even though I had disagreed with him that on his point that change was self-denial, I had thought that his self-confidence was admirable. I thought that he would never lie or deceive. Because he strongly believed in himself, I had thought that he held such things as worthless.
It turned out that we were not looking at the same things. What I firmly rejected, he fully tolerated. What I denied, he accepted as natural.
"I thought that we were both supposed to have hated superficiality more than anything..."
Those words left my lips and dissipated into the air. Whether or not they reached the ears of Hikigaya, he simply gave me a final gaze devoid of reproach, yet also devoid of warmth. He silently shut the door and disappeared.
The unclaimed tea in the teapot amounted to the volume of one paper cup.
The teacher left the room after giving us a sad, but understanding smile.
The normally boisterous girl whimpered.
The icy girl was, once again, neither understood, nor could she understand.
And, the ones who had claimed that clubroom as theirs returned to the path they once followed. This time, there was no turning back.
During Volume 8 Chapter 4 and Chapter 5
In my room of near complete darkness, I laid down on my plump bed over my sheets. I sunk down on the mattress, like a fish, without resurfacing.
I could hardly see anything past a centimetre in front of me. The faint lines of light seeping out from the underside of the door at a distance away only allowed me to see vague outlines of the furniture in my room. Effectively, there was little distinction between what I saw, or rather, what I didn't see when I closed my eyes and when I opened them.
Gray. Or perhaps black.
In that kind of blind abyss, there was nothing material that I could focus on. My brain, not standing to be idle, began drift to thoughts that were in dire need of processing.
I thought about Isshiki Iroha. Exactly who she was wasn't what weighed on my mind. Rather, it was her circ.u.mstances that I was more concerned with. At the moment that I arrived home, I had immediately started thinking of ways to deal with her situation. Isshiki approached us for a request, so it was my duty to fulfill them. If I couldn't even do that, then there was no meaning in the club, and my convictions would have been worthless from the start.
I thought about Hikigaya Hachiman. With regards to him, I was angry, disappointed, bitter, and confused. But his ways were firmly set. Therefore, I also firmly set my own ways. We would no longer see eye-to-eye. I thought we had come close to that, but we had never even faced each other properly from the start. There was no way we could, not with the disparity of ideals between him and I.
And, I thought about Yuigahama Yui. She likely held expectations about both Hikigaya and me. Maybe even she thought that Hikigaya and I would eventually reach some sort of understanding. Maybe she had been awaiting something beautiful to sprout as she continued to spend each and every day attending the Service Club. Whatever she hoped for, those dreamy goals of her were dashed to pieces starting at the bamboo forest and were incinerated continuing at the clubroom earlier today.
Beside me, atop the nightstand, my smartphone's screen lit up like a beacon and began vibrating. Its normally quiet hum of vibration was amplified to a roar thanks to the consequential shaking of the nightstand. Thinking of it in a different way, its normally suppressed scream was fully revealed thanks to the assistance of the nightstand.
I reached out to grab it. When I brought it above the nightstand, the loudness was immediately reduced to quietness. Smothered in my hand, my smartphone continued to vibrate, continued to scream, but its noise was no longer as intense as before.
I peered at its screen. The name that showed up was Yuigahama Yui. Without taking a moment more to think, I answered the call.
"Ah, hey, Yukinon," she faintly spoke.
Through the speakers, I barely heard Yuigahama deeply breathing in and deeply breathing out. I was grateful that she did so at a distance from her phone's microphone.
"Um, I talked a bit with Iroha-chan after, and she's planning on coming to the club tomorrow to talk about the election and stuff."
"Is that so?" I muttered.
"Ah... yeah..." vaguely spoke Yuigahama.
After that, silence broke in between us. For many seconds, neither of us could find words to say to each other. Even so, I could not bring myself to say good-bye and hang up.
From the speakers, I heard the restless rustling of something. Yuigahama's steady breaths acted like a metronome for my own breaths.
Finally, Yuigahama spoke in a meek voice, "Um... about that... what Hikki said..."
"Which of his words?" I uttered with a strangely low voice.
I heard a faint gasp. Nonetheless, Yuigahama attempted to continue as if brushing it off.
"A-Ah, about what he said about me needing to decide as well. I don't really know, and honestly, I'm a little scared about having to decide," said Yuigahama with a trembling voice, "It's like I'm in a corner."
I gripped my smartphone a little more tightly. Yuigahama's dilemma of supporting either me or Hikigaya was wholly undeserved.
"Yukinon, I don't know. I really don't know. There's only one thing that I do know, and it's that I... I really don't like any of this."
Yuigahama's trembling voice became a nearly hysteric one. If Yuigahama was physically with me right now, I would have to avert my eyes, for she would definitely be showing a face that was on the verge of tears.
"The way that Hikki does things is really cruel. What's even more scary is that they work and we always have to rely on them."
"No, Yuigahama-san. What happened on the field trip, I definitely do not consider that a success," I declared.
"I know. That's why we can't let him do something like that anymore. That's why..."
I gulped. It was predictable what Yuigahama's decision would have been. Anyone could see that. Even so, I still felt dreadful anticipation.
"That's why, even though I don't like it that we can't work together with him this time, I'm going to go along with you," decided Yuigahama, "Because, Yukinon, you really hate it, don't you?"
An ending born of insincerity, a result built upon lies, those were things that I absolutely hated. I hated how he, Hikigaya Hachiman, would call the kinds of methods infused with falsehoods the most efficient ones.
It could not be said for certain that his methods were the best, the most logically sound. His own twisted viewpoints and way of thinking tampered with his criteria. The things he did not think of or the things that he discarded still had the potential to be better than what he accepted as viable.
What he considered trash could, in fact, be treasure.
I decided. I will take what he would have discarded and attain an even better result.
"Yuigahama-san, I know what to do."
In the clubroom after school, at the next day, I began writing down my propositions.
Isshiki Iroha sat to my left, though she was oriented perpendicular to me. That was because I was sitting at the end of the table, and she was at the long side of it. She shifted around a bit in her chair, but had a contrastingly calm face.
Yuigahama, who as at my right, had her phone out on the table, and she periodically glanced at it, perhaps to check the time.
"Umm, I told Hikki to come, so I think we should wait a bit..." spoke Yuigahama.
I coldly retorted without looking up from my paper, "Do you really think he'll show up?"
"Maybe... I told him we would be talking with Iroha too, about what we're going to do."
Hikigaya was not cooperating with us this time, so he did not need to meet with us. On the other hand, this would be a good time for him to gather intel for whatever nefarious schemes he would design. Whether or not he would show up would depend on just how much he believed in his twisted pragmatism.
"About our plan, Yuigahama-san, do you remember it all?" I asked as I continued to write.
She readily replied, "Mmhmm. I think it's great. It makes a lot of sense. And if we go through with it, then it won't have to come down to that."
Yuigahama frowned after speaking that last word. My knees suddenly felt stiff and cold, as if the flow of blood to my legs were cut off.
At that moment, the door was flung open. The one who showed up was, without question, Hikigaya Hachiman.
"Ah, he really came..." muttered Yuigahama.
There were no words to be exchanged between Hikigaya and I. After confirming with my eyes that he had come, I redirected my attention to my write-up.
I put the finishing touches to what I was writing. Putting it that way was embellishing it a little, though. The premise of my plan was relatively simple. Though, that the execution of it may not be as straightforward.
I placed my pen down and rested my slightly fatigued hand on the table.
"Well, shall we begin?" I announced.
Isshiki eagerly nodded. Yuigahama looked a bit unsure of something, but she, too, nodded. Hikigaya, who took his usual seat that was at the greatest distance from my own, was looking at the clock lackadaisically.
"...Sorry for making you wait," he spoke as he turned his pupils, but not his head, towards me.
"...That's fine," I briefly replied.
My tone was unintentionally sharp and conclusive. It even ended the discussion, that I tried to start, prematurely, causing us to become wrapped in silence.
I let my head gradually droop down until I was staring at the paper in front of me. I could hear the recurrent, but not periodic, tapping of the table from the sound source farthest away from me.
Finding the silence uncomfortable, Yuigahama quickly spoke to Isshiki, "Um, sorry for making you come here. Were you busy with your club by any chance?"
Isshiki frantically waved her hands back in forth and denied, "Nooope, not at all! Besides, I let Hayama know that I had something important to do and he gave me the okay too."
Isshiki went on to ask if Hayama knew about her circ.u.mstances, given that he gave her permission so easily. Frankly, I was uninterested in all of that. Yet, this exchange was not entirely worthless, for it gave me the momentum to segway into our main topic.
When it looked like Isshiki and Yuigahama were satisfied with what they were talking about, I immediately cut in, "Yuigahama-san, let's get started."
"Okay, good idea," Yuigahama immediately nodded "So, we're going to decide what our objective is, so we're going to ask you about a few things, okay?"
"Yeeees...?" crudely responded Isshiki.
Yuigahama continued, "For now, Iroha, we'll find another candidate to step in, and you'll face off with that person in the election."
That was how simple the premise was, and anyone could have come up with it.
"And then you'll lose as simply as possible in the final vote."
Yet, it was because that it was so simple that there was little at stake. It was because that it was that it lacked great elaborateness that it would lack any and all falsehood.
"We think this is the best way. Iroha, is that okay with you?"
This straightforward, successful plan was the antithesis of the devious, cunning setups of Hikigaya.
"Let's see, that really does give you a 'final vote' feeling," thoughtfully spoke Isshiki, "Ah. But if possible, I'd like to lose to someone who's amazing. It'd be better for me personally!"
I narrowed my eyes just a little bit. Although Isshiki, herself, did not want to become president, the fact that such a selfish and irresponsible girl could even get nominated in the first place made me question the prestige of the position.
Hikigaya brought up his criticism, "Did you find someone willing to be a candidate?"
Yuigahama faltered, "Not yet actually..."
He pressed on, "Well, when's the cutoff for when you can run as a new candidate in the election?"
Yuigahama weakly opened her mouth, but before she could stutter, I confidently gave Hikigaya my precise response.
"The Monday two weeks from now. That said, the deadline's supposed to have been already passed, but that Monday is tentatively the new cutoff day. It's the last day when they'll accept any more candidates. The voting will take place on the following Thursday."
Not only Yuigahama, but I also spoke with Shiromeguri a little bit yesterday as well. Being the capable, if not airheaded, and high-status, if not wonky, person she was, she was able to pull a few strings to give us more time.
Hikigaya relented, "Really? Until then, you need to find a candidate, persuade him or her, and find over 30 people to endorse him or her. After that, there's also the election campaign as well, huh..."
"We're very aware of how little time we have left," I snapped, "That's why we plan on going on ahead regarding those things."
That was why the execution of the plan was difficult. We had many different items on our plate to sort through in paltry amounts of time. Yet, there was one thing that was good. Because the principle of the plan was simple, we could truck through the practical matters of our plan with a clear and honest goal. We did not have to waste time brainstorming ploys and establishing tricks behind the scenes.
I turned my head towards Isshiki and called her name. She recoiled backward in response, but she soon righted herself and faced my seriously, though a little unsteadily.
"Regardless of how it's done, a speech needs to be made for Isshiki," I declared.
Isshiki sighed and spoke reluctantly, "Haa, well, that isn't too much of a problem..."
Isshiki still looked unsure. Very well. After my explanations, she will understand and gain confidence.
"In the speech, the promises of the campaign need to be laid out so you can talk about them. Although, I don't think there'd be anyone who would listen to it seriously."
To the common students, matters such as the student council are irrelevant when brought up against their studies and social lives. They wouldn't seriously dwell on the fine details of our platform. This "rational ignorance" of the superfluous was something that I was well-accustomed to, something that I considered actually irrational.
There was a remedy for that, though.
I continued, "It might be better for the other candidate to have a different campaign platform to what Isshiki is doing. If it's just the same thing, it'd become a popularity contest. We want to aim for a somewhat noticeable difference in the two platforms."
If people weren't drawn to the elections, then we needed to make it interesting for them. The conflict between two ideals would surely draw people in since entertainment thrives on conflict (Source: the news). The existence and acknowledgement of real differences and real divides between two candidates would at least force people to turn their heads around.
"I thought up the details of the campaign platform and the speech, so could you take a look at them?" I slid the piece of paper that I had been writing on this whole time over to Isshiki "It'd help me out if you could think of other things that are slightly different using this as a reference."
However, on that piece of paper were only two brief ideas: creating a study program to help students get into university and to lower the bar for acquiring funding for club activities. Isshiki tilted her head, puzzled by the brevity after our grand explanations.
Yuigahama reassured her, "You know, I thought it wasn't all that much either, too."
"Numbers aren't the issue at times like these," I followed up, "Having at least one would've been sufficient as well."
Another reason why the common student would not be interested in the student council elections is that they disliked anything longwinded and complex. I would like to say that this is the result of a fast-paced modern society, and not the result of low intelligence. In any case, keeping it simple allows the common student to retain the information better.
Also, if the brevity of the ideas made them seem less desirable, then that was fine too. After all, Isshiki was supposed to lose in the first place. We can come up with even better promises for the opposing candidate.
There shouldn't be any major problems with my plan. I thought it all through carefully.
Hikigaya leaned forward and rested his arms on the table. He gave a tired sigh, then looked squarely at me.
"You guys were the one who thought up what the campaign should be about. That means that the other candidate is pretty much a puppet candidate, but is that okay with you?" he uttered.
My thoughts froze as if my head contacted dry ice.
"It's fine doing it your way if it turns out well. That is, if reality was that simple... But let's say the candidate does win the election. How is he going to go about managing the student council?"
"Are you going to continue helping him after that?" malevolently spoke Hikigaya, "Maybe even forever?"
Yuigahama broke in, "Th-That's why we want to look for someone capable first."
He easily refuted her, "You're just making it harder. If you think about the future, the long term, then it doesn't really mean much. It's not a very good idea."
Hikigaya's words stung like darts. The circ.u.mstances of the student council after the elections never once entered my mind. I had been wholly focused on the immediate election. I failed to grasp something so fundamental.
I turned my face down towards the table so that no one could see my stunned expression.
He regarded my plan as something with no value. He saw it as inefficient and destructive. He saw not one thing that was good about it. It was because what he valued never did include what I held as valuable, as things that should never be violated.
"...Then, what meaning is there behind your methods?" I muttered.
What was the point of cold indifference? What did he hope to achieve by trying to reach the endpoint by any means possible?
He spoke with a hollow voice, "If it's just this time, then for now, I'd say avoid everything. After losing because of a vote of no confidence, then we can pull out and let the special election happen. That's the right answer."
He responded to my question of meaning with an answer of method. Therefore, engrained within that method was his meaning.
"Just this time? No, that's wrong."
The endpoint of a problem was the absence of the problem. It is normally the case that a problem disappears because it has been solved. Hikigaya's methods never once solved a single thing. What followed afterwards was never ideal, never complete. Every single time he avoided the situation, covering it up, hoping that no one would notice anything anymore.
I looked up. I faced Hikigaya. It was too late, and it was too much. I bit my lips, but overflow spilled out of my mouth nonetheless.
"...You did the same thing before and avoided the situation."
The endpoint of a problem was the absence of the problem. Therefore, Hikigaya chose to pretend that the problem was never there in the first place. He avoided it. The solution was not a requirement in his methods. To him, there was no need to resolve Tobe's feelings if he could make them irrelevant. To him, the problem was as good as solved if he erased it from existence or made it unnoticeable.
Hikigaya avoided my eyes by tilting his head downwards. The bangs of his hair hid his expression, just like on that windy night in the bamboo forest. The same chill I felt on that night brushed past the back of my neck.
He rustled the hair on the back of his head as if shaking off dust.
In an almost mocking tone, he spoke, "So... was there a problem?"
That was his acknowledgement. If there was something that was crumbling, then he didn't have a problem with letting it crumble. As long as no one was left to acknowledge that there was a problem, then he was fine with it, no matter the outcome. His earlier words about the vote of no confidence contained false concern. It was only used in an attempt to convince me.
Even so, I didn't want to believe it. What I now knew were lies, but I didn't want them to be lies.
"Weren't you the one who said there wasn't any meaning in such superficiality?"
He grimaced. He must have been distressed at having one of his many lies pointed out. He didn't answer.
Then, I asked him that same question that I had asked at the beginning and yesterday. I asked him one more time.
"You don't plan on changing, do you?"
His previous hesitation gone, he answered without a second thought, "Yeah."
Any last hope of understanding had been erased. Underneath the table, I silently and weakly clenched my fists.
Hikigaya and I fell as silent as corpses. We've said all that we could have spoken to each other. Any additional words would only sprout a new conflict. There was nothing left.
Yuigahama tried to find something, anything to say. But she faltered, her words dying before they could pass by her lips.
Hikigaya ruggedly stood up and said solemnly, "I'm going to head home now. I already got the gist of what's going on."
In other words, the chance for us that he had allowed to come up with a good plan had been wasted. Us explaining our plan to him only strengthened his own resolve to carry through with his own methods.
He turned around and headed to the door without pushing in his chair. On his way out, he closed the door the moment that both of his feet were outside of the room. Isshiki, whose mouth was wide open, looked around erratically before saying that she will be right back and headed out of the room as well.
Yuigahama and I remained seated. We no longer had the energy to turn back. Therefore, the only thing left was for us to continue.
Yuigahama gradually raised her arm and weakly tugged at the sleeve of my shirt.
"Hey, Yukinon... this kind of thing... I don't like it at all. Don't you hate it as well? Hey, tell me, Yukinon."
Yuigahama's quivering eyes were such a sorrowful sight to behold that I lost my own ability to keep a straight face.
"Tell me, even though Hikki and you have been like that this whole time, why is it like this now? Why is it that it's so different this time even though you and him have always been talking back to each other and arguing!?"
I couldn't grasp the meaning of Yuigahama's words. Even so, my eyes widened and my bones rattled. I suddenly became vaguely aware of what I had initiated on my own.
Later on that day, far into the night, at a time when most people should be sleeping, I sent a mail to Yuigahama, asking her if she was still on board with me. Ten seconds later, I received one simple reply.
"Yes. I have to."
On the next day, Yuigahama and I met up at the club after school to discuss what Isshiki would say and what the other candidate would say as their platform. Yet, it soon became clear that we wouldn't be getting very far without finding an alternative candidate. After we had our fill of black tea, and I disposed of the excess tea that I accidentally made, we gave ourselves the assignment of finding that candidate.
A student council president should be responsible, dependable, charismatic, intelligent, rational and trustworthy. When I thought of the people that I knew and observed the people in my class, I found that none of them could fit my standards. Whether that was the result of them truly being of low leadership quality or if that was the result of a poorer actual ability to judge others than I had believed I had was unknown to me.
At the next time that Yuigahama and I reconvened, Yuigahama suggested a person that I had overlooked Hayama Hayato. Surely, Hayama Hayato's nauseating smile that he would attract the masses with would be an incredible, if not a slightly dubious, asset in being a student council president. His irrational desire to try and get everyone to get along was also something that a leader needed to have. Indeed, the proof of excellent leadership was his history of being the president of his soccer club.
Associating with Hayama has been, for a long time, something that I would rather avoid. Yet, throughout the past year, our club has assisted him, and he has assisted us. It could not be helped at those times. And this time was surely another time where it could not be helped. It could no longer be helped that I needed to go much farther than anyone would have originally thought I would have, that I would decide to swallow something detestable so that the other detestable thing wouldn't taste as bad.
"Yes, let's use Hayama Hayato," I declared within a clubroom that was occupied by one member less, "He would be... an excellent candidate, I suppose."
"Even so, the obligations that that person has is certainly not few in number or of low importance," I said with a frown.
"I know," sullenly spoke Yuigahama, "But I guess that's what makes Hayato-kun our best bet."
We were walking toward the busy commercial centre of town. The time was quite far past the dismissal period of school. Under the transitioning orange and blue sky, even those that had come straight here after school to play had already expended all of their energy and relocated to cafs and restaurant for a quick bite or for a full dinner.
Yuigahama and I were also on our way to a caf. Yet, even though neither she nor I had eaten a proper full meal since lunchtime (snacks being obviously excluded), our primary purpose in going to the caf was not to satisfy our hunger.
I cautiously looked around the block. Far too many eateries surrounded me. The fact that many of them had brightly coloured signs and conspicuous, flashing lights spoke volumes of the intense competition that they shared. The rush for coffee guaranteed the existence of many cafs, and I wondered if we were heading in the right direction.
"Yuigahama-san, I know that it might be difficult to convince him, but if we emphasize the troubles of Isshiki, then... Yuigahama-san?"
Yuigahama had disappeared from my side. Did she get lost?
"Yukinoooon, the caf is over here!"
Yuigahama's distant shout reached my ears from the left side. I swiftly made my way over to her.
"Why were you walking that way?" she asked, "We reached the caf a while ago."
"...I seldom find the opportunity to visit such places," I said as I played with a strand of my hair.
Earlier, Yuighaama had told me that Hayama would be busy today, so he couldn't meet with us immediately after school to talk about the election. Thus, it was necessary that we met at a later time. The caf was the next best place to meet up as the time now was past the absolute school closure time.
"Yukinon... I'm sure that Hayato-kun will understand," assured Yuigahama.
"...That would be ideal," I murmured.
We were running out of time. I had no backup plan. If, for some reason, Hayama would not become a candidate, then we would risk failure of the entire plan.
The two-floored caf was only moderately crowded. When we ascended to the second floor, it didn't take long to spot him who had a head of blonde and a nauseating smile of gold. He noticed us as well, and he stood up from his seat and waved at us. We headed toward his table.
The person who was sitting beside him hurriedly stood up as if he was startled. This accompanying person was, at our blatant surprise, Hikigaya Hachiman.
"You guys..." Hikigaya sputtered.
"Hikki..." muttered Yuigahama, her voice sounding distant.
I found myself glaring at Hikigaya. For him to be present along with Hayama Hayato, who we were supposed to have been using for our plan, made me think that he had ideas of sabotage. Such a cruel act would not be out of the range of possibilities for him.
Yet, Hikigaya was not the only person with Hayama at the table. Two unknown girls, who looked aghast, sat opposite to the two boys.
Yuigahama tightly gripped the strap of her bag. Hayama was not wearing his usual smile. Instead, he wore strict, even vicious, frown. He exerted a deafening pressure that went completely against his usual desires of getting along.
"Why are you guys here...?" Hikigaya barely voiced.
Hayama answered, "I called them here."
Hikigaya looked extremely confused, as if he was met with something outside of his calculations. Hayama stiffened his back and shot the two girls a hostile glare. He was primed.
"Hikigaya isn't the kind of guy you two make him out to be," he spoke coldly.
He pointed towards us. Yuigahama flinched, as if she were struck with a needle.
"He gets along fine with those two girls who are much, much more wonderful than you two could ever be," Hayama uttered, "Could you two please stop running your mouth on only what you can see?"
The two girls became petrified. They could not muster a single response. How could they? Even I found Hayama's actions to be incomprehensible.
Us getting along well with Hikigaya? What a farce. The bliss of ignorance only lay with the ignorant. To those who were involved, we would only make pained faces, and angry faces. Or even apathetic ones.
Having seemed defeated, one of the two girls heaved a deep sigh.
"Sorry, I'll be going home," she quietly spoke.
"Y-Yeah. Sorry, me too..." spoke the second girl.
The second girl followed after the first one, looking terribly fl.u.s.tered. The two of them quickly headed for the stairs heading downwards.
As they walked by me, one of the girls muttered something under her breath, but I did not know which one nor did I hear what she had to say. I didn't check. I only continued to glare at the blonde-haired fool in front of me who was wasting my time with whatever it was he was doing.
After the two girls had gotten away far enough, I sighed as if releasing a stopper. I was only aware that something heavy and grimy had acc.u.mulated when I did so. Yet, I was still rational enough to shape that grime into a smooth sword, rather than let it explode in an outburst.
I directed my eyes precisely at Hayama and, in an even tone, spoke, "I was told we were having a meeting regarding the election."
"By election, do you mean the student council?" asked Hikigaya, his surprise not yet subsiding.
With the two girls gone, Hayama crumpled. He slouched his back and nodded weakly in response to Hikigaya's question.
Looking back and forth between Hikigaya, Hayama and I, Yuigahama spoke in a hurry, "U-Um, you see, Yukinon and I talked about how maybe we could try to get Hayato to come out for the election, so that's why today, we were going to talk to him about it, and, and..."
But Yuigahama couldn't persist with her explanation. Everything was far out of her expectations. Struck with the combination of Hikigaya's unwarranted appearance and Hayama's brash actions, she sank into silence, not knowing in the slightest how to proceed.
The cloud of confusion around Hikigaya gradually dissipated and, looking as if he was starting to understand the situation, he shot Hayama an accusatory glare. Hayama allowed himself to be penetrated by it.
"I just wanted to do whatever I could," Hayama spoke with frailty.
"Hmmm, I see, I see."
That response did not come from Hikigaya. Instead, a woman had walked over to us from the smoker's corner and said those words in amus.e.m.e.nt. That woman was Yukinoshita Haruno, my dreaded older sister.
I widened my eyes. My expectations of today went from being unfulfilled to mercilessly shattered. My knees shook uncontrollably.
Why was she here?
What were her plans?
What will happen?
How much will I be hurt?
"So, Yukino, you're not going to run for student council president, huh?" she spoke with a malevolent grin, "I was totally under the impression that you were going to."
Haruno was never a student council president in the past, and, from her words, she expected me to take this opportunity to try to raise myself above her. She knew perfectly well that I looked up to her. No, that was putting it far too euphemistically. I envied her skills. But this and that should be entirely different things.
Hikigaya half-opened his mouth, not because he was about to say something, but because it was an instinctive reaction to horror. Hayama averted his eyes shamefully. Yuigahama clasped her hands together far too tightly.
Haruno stepped right to my front, leaving mere centimetres of separation between us. I avoided her gaze by looking downwards, but her overpowering aura locked me in still fear.
"You're exactly like mom in the way that you push someone to do things for you."
Me? Similar to my mother?
There was no way that was true. I didn't command absolute obedience. I wasn't shrewd to the point where everything I did had to be checked over to ensure that I wasn't tricking anyone or taking advantage of them.
But what if it was true that I was heading down that same path? Even though I, myself, absolutely did not believe it, I couldn't brush it off it came from Haruno.
"Well, I guess that suits Yukino-chan just fine, though."
She reached out and smoothly rubbed the back of my neck. She felt, experimented with, and took control of my spinal cord, and my whole back felt as cold as ice.
"After all, it's fine if you don't do anything. I mean, someone's always going to do it for you, right?"
I pictured my mother sitting down gracefully on a chair with a graceful smile to match. With gentle words, she commanded shadowy figures behind her. The words were soothing, but if taken as a whole, they turned out to be terrifying. The ones who listened had no choice but to obey.
One of those shadowy figures turned out to be myself. Then, both that figure and the image of my mother faded away, and my own self reappeared on that chair. I had the graceful countenance and posture of my mother. And, I also spoke commanding words that acted as a veil for something horrible.
I pictured myself commanding those shadowy figures to do something, and they left. But at the moment that I was left alone, my mind froze. I had no information, no data.
Haruno's fingers continued to trace around the back and now sides of my neck as I was locked in that trance. Eventually, her fingers crawled, like legs of a spider, to my throat. I felt a sudden sense of urgency. I was already treading on thin ice. It felt like her fingers would pierce right through and hit upon the murky depths that I couldn't bear to unleash.
I slapped away my sister's arms. She smirked at me. I stood as firm as I could before her.
"I see, so that's what this is about..." I muttered.
I sent a harsh glare towards Hayama. As if ashamed of the fact that he had willingly or unwillingly acted as a co-conspirator, he sighed and closed his eyes off to the world.
This was just another one of my older sister's pranks. This was just another one of her ploys to make me feel uncomfortable, to make me question myself, or simply just to make me cry. I didn't have a clue as to what brought on this sadistic style of enjoyment to her. It had been this way for as long as I could remember.
I didn't have time for this.
"If there's nothing else, I'll be leaving."
I turned toward the stairs and marched away. After a few seconds, I heard Yuigahama's worried steps trail up to me.
I simply couldn't be second-guessing myself at this stage. I had already set in stone my conviction, and I had already embarked on the journey to the ending to this election that I desired. I was already set out to bring about, using my methods that lacked anything despicable, a conclusion that was the most satisfying.
By myself, I had decided to bring about a solution that we desired, and not just one that solely fulfilled our needs.
I headed out the door. The emergence into the colder outside air shocked my senses and I automatically hugged my chest.
Yuigahama also emerged from the door. She moved around to the front of me and worriedly looked at me. She opened and closed her mouth a few times as she attempted to convey but ultimately withdraw her words. After a while, she looked downward and could only murmur the most naive question.
"Hey, Yukinon, what'll we do about the candidate?"
At first, I thought that the long sofa in my apartment would serve as nothing more than a decoration. Yet, throughout the past half year, after meeting Yuigahama, it had actually managed to serve its intended function. Tonight, however, it had regressed to a state only slightly above being a mere decoration. The reason for that being that I was its sole occupant.
I sat, and I brooded. I didn't know, so I searched for the way to know.
What do I do about the student council election?
The most obvious answer was simply to ask Hayama some other time. He wouldn't dare try pulling a similar stunt a second time.
Yet, that felt wrong. Somehow, I thought that I absolutely couldn't go to Hayama for this anymore. I rationalized it as the loss of trust. Yet, I also knew that I held little trust in him from the onset.
I shook my head to clear my mind of looping paradoxes and unnecessary thoughts. There wasn't any time to resolve why I thought about certain things. I needed to take my refusal of Hayama's potential service as a given. I needed to exclude him to proceed.
Then, what other potential candidates existed out there? Who could I go to and ask them to become the student council president?
Not a single person came to mind.
That was obvious. If there was anyone who was willing to become the student council president, then they would have already applied for candidacy, and I would have already been supporting them with all that I had.
No, I was thinking too close-mindedly. That's right. I only thought of other people. I had, from the beginning, crossed myself off from the list.
If I look at myself objectively, I was responsible, systematic and intelligent. I had all of the right specs to become the president. The ideal candidate was right here, attached to this nose, the whole time.
" So, Yukino, you're not going to run for student council president, huh?"
No, I was following after my sister again. If I were to become president, then that would mean I would be playing catch-up with her again.
But was that really the case?
Perhaps it was a trap. Maybe she wanted me to think that in order to stop me from heading down the right path. A hint was purposely wrapped up in thorns so that I would avoid doing what that hint would say.
How great would it be if I became the president. The students and staff would surely be pleased with me. I would prevent a puppet candidate from being elected if I, the puppeteer herself, became president. Isshiki would not lose face if she lost to a "superior second-year senpai".
Though, I wouldn't know what would happen to the Service Club if I became president.
No, I would balance it out. I was fully capable of devoting time to both the student council and the Service Club. If it was just to fulfill the duties of both, then I would be able to do that.
I decided. This was the solution that would be the most satisfying. Not a single person would be hurt. There were few downsides, none of which were significant. It was desirable. I desired it. I came upon this solution myself, without anyone's direct guidance.
I stood up from the sofa and headed towards my room to begin the night's slumber. Today no, these last few days were tiresome. I felt like I was ready to collapse. However, tomorrow would be the starting point of Yukinoshita Yukino's grand solution. I needed to rest this fragile body to prepare myself.
That night, I couldn't fall asleep until four in the morning.