Chapter 5: “Creating Connections”
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Two days had passed since the cancelled duel between Margaux and the vice president. Since then, there's nothing interesting happened and the issue about the duel was not tackled anymore. I continued to attend classes, listen to the lessons, and then go home. That's my daily routine as of now. If I'll talk about my social life here, then I can say that it is negative. I don't plan to go along with anyone here so I tried my best not to be involved in others' conversations as well as not minding them. Because of that, no one talked to me for two straight days.

Tachibana-sensei finished her lesson on her subject without letting me understand a single thing. I guess the correct words were "I didn't listened because it's boring." Tachibana-sensei prepared her thing to leave when she stopped and called us all causing our attentions to shift to her.

"By the way, there will be an activity for all first-years tomorrow. Participating it will give you 20,000 yen," she said that caused my classmates to become excited.

"The details will be revealed tomorrow. The only thing I can say is that the student council presidents of the Pacific Academy will come here to witness it."

By student council presidents, she means that the Academy Rank 1 of each academy will come. I have a slight idea of the persons that will visit here because of the Pacific Prix, that was broadcasted live last December. The only fact I knew is that Hira-neechan will not go here. It is way too impossible for her eventhough she became the 2nd place of that contest.

Tachibana-sensei took her leave without greeting us. Her attitude is not befitting of her as an instructor but the way she speaks and create the mood makes her worthy of it.

My classmates immediately stood up doing their usual businesses during lunch break. Some were chatting on a corner while others will leave and go to the place which I don't know where it was. I also decided to leave the room and proceed to the rooftop. I'm not that hungry this time because I ate too much during breakfast

If I want to proceed to the rooftop, I need to go to the second and third floor, which is the seniors' classrooms. Honestly, I don't want to make too much contact with them or even see one of them because of that incident three days ago where a first-year was in the face of near expulsion but was interrupted by the student council vice president.

It was a good thing that there is an emergency stairs that can lead me to the rooftop. It can be used by everyone but I don't why only few, or to be precise, almost no one, go here. But for me, it was a miracle sent from above that I won't encounter any seniors because they scare the heck out of me. I was ascending in peace when someone called me when I reached the fourth floor or the floor for the third-years.

"Excuse me," the student said timidly.

The voice came from behind so turned my head to see a student. Her red twintail compliments well with her child-like face and height. If you don't know her, you may think that she's just a middle schooler or even a elementary student on her 6th grade but it is not because-

"You're the vice president, right?", I asked to her with a slight tinge of irritation. She then look straight into my eyes without any hesitation. "Stop it. It makes me embarrassed," I complained inside my mind. It is a good thing that no one can see us here.

"Yes. I'm Hakari Akane, a third-year student and the vice president of this academy," she replied. The way she introduced herself makes anyone to become deferent towards her.

"Karasuma Hiji, a first-year student."

"Then, Karasuma-kun...", she stopped speaking then suddenly bowed her entire upper body in front of me, forming a perfect 90° angle. I was extremely surprised by her sudden actions. I don't know what to do or to say right now.

"I humbly apologize for the mistreatment Margaux gave to you two days ago," she said, still not lifting up her body.

Ah... So that's it. I was shocked after knowing Margaux's identity that caused me to cough violently while drinking water. She became irritated by it.

"I-I don't deserve any apologize, vice president. And besides, you don't need to do that for her."

"But as the vice president, it is still my duty to never let any maltreatment occur here especially if the president is absent," she replied and finally lifted her body.

Based on what I can see, her apology to me is not just because of her responsibility, but out of pure sincerity.

"Don't worry about it. My reaction that time deserves it," I said.

"I'm not sure if this can repay you but at least let me treat you to a lunch," she said while taking a step forward.

What should I do? I'm full right now but I don't want to reject her. She's the vice president and it will become disrespecful on her side if I decline her offer. I came up with an answer after two seconds of thinking.

"I'm not worthy of such an offer from the vice president, but I'm still thankful for that," I said and it's my turn now to bow.

If the students saw us together, eventhough they knew that nothing bizarre is happening between us, it will still be an issue especially to that arrogant Margaux. I think my reply is the best possible answer I can say to her.

"If you're conscious of us being seen, then maybe you should wait me at the rooftop. It is where you're heading, right?"

How did she know about it? Is she a mind reader? I guess it is a part of it. She attracts too much attention making anyone who's with her to experience it as well.

"If you insist, then I'll wait for you there," I said and started to climb the stairs. I heard her say, "Yes," then she probably headed to the canteen.

I finally arrived at the rooftop of Building A. It was like on traditional schools except that I can see four benches, two on left and other two on right. I walked toward the fence that was four meters high, and a bespectacled view of the entire Pacific Fourth caught my eye. I can see a clear view of the Dormitory and Shopping District Islands.

I sat on a nearby bench and fiddled on my phone. There is an application here called "Fourth Update". Here, you can post everything you want and every student can see them eventhough you don't know the one who posted it. I'll take this picture of three girls eating parfaits in a cafe as an example. They already had 370 likes in just 15 hours. I guess most of the ones who liked it are males because this girls are quite cute. I continued to look for any interesting post I can get when I heard that the door opened and saw that the vice president coming here while holding two sandwiches and cans of orange juice.

"Here," she handed me each one of it. "I'm sorry if this didn't reached your expectations."

"No. I'm okay with this. Thank you very much," I accepted her offer. She then sat down on the edge of the bench. She must considering what I feel right now because this is a sudden meeting or should I say, encounter.

"I'm very sorry again for what Margaux did," she took the initiative to start a conversation.

"It's okay. I don't mind it after all," I replied while opening the can of orange juice.

"She's treating me like that to me since the third month of classes last year. I don't even know if I did something wrong to her." Her voice is full of confusion and grief as if she didn't requested a duel on Margaux with the expulsion as a bet.

"Then why don't you ask her?", I asked, slightly looking to her.

"It's useless. I tried to do it once but she just became very angry to the point that she wants to kill me."

"T-That's quite harsh," I said and noticed the despair on her aura.

Of course I would feel the same emotion she has right now. Maybe that is the true nature of Margaux, randomly assaulting someone without any valid reasons. But the way I see her act towards the vice president, she holds a grudge on her but I don't know the reason why.

"She wants me to be removed from my position, or should I say, from this academy. She'll do everything in her disposal to achieve everything she wants to do."

"I see. She's a part of the royal family of England after all."

She didn't responded after what I said. She decided to eat her sandwhich and stare blankly into the sky. Just from her expression, I can see that being the student council vice president is a extremely tough work. I also decided to eat mine.

"I'm sorry to ask this, Karasuma-kun. But do you think that the academy policy is correct?"

I didn't looked at her but she did it to me. That question is hard to answer especially if it came from someone like her. I'm just a first-year student from Class D who just attended this academy three days ago.

"If I may say this, I think it's right. The academy wants every student to prosper on their own rather than depending on others."

What I said is my honest opinion, not as a student here but as an individual. Just the concepts of "rise on individual basis" and "betrayal" are enough proofs of it. Those who were dependent on others will be in a grave disadvantage but finding someone that you can trust is quite a gamble.

"I see," the vice president said, slightly lowering her head and based from her expression, she's kinda disappointed on my response.

"The outside world is like a battlefield. You can trust no one except yourself. You can't even give your life to your allies. I'm sure if a squad is on a life-threatening situation, all of them will prioritize their life first before others," I added.

Silence fell again between the two of us. The sky is cloudless so the sun's rays were directed to us which makes our body temperature to rise. I want to get out of here quickly to cool myself and to get away from her for now. This is literally awkward. I waited for a perfect opportunity to say my farewell to her but few seconds after, she stood up energetically and extended her hand to me.

"Ah! By the way, you're my little sister's classmate,right?"

"Yes," I replied and saw her bright smile as if she has no problem to deal with.

"Then please just call me Akane-senpai from now on and I'll call you Hiji. Is that okay?"

"Isn't that too early?"

"I just have the feeling that we'll become close friends. Am I wrong?"

"N-N-No, you're not," I replied and stood up to handshake with her.

I guess having one friend inside the academy is enough. I can't reject an invitation like that from the vice president. No, I mean Akane-senpai. She said that she need to go to the studrnt council room to do some paperworks. I asked if it's okay if we leave here together and she nodded. But she just said that we should depart when we reached third floor because rumors between us might spread fast like a virus. I feel relieved that she considers my concern.

*****

The Physical Commencement, the subject wherein we do, of course, physical activities finished at exactly 16:00. Usually, I always head home right after it but for now, I decided to stay a little longer on Building A. There is a vending machine on the hallway so I took a can of cold orange juice. It's the same brand that Akane-senpai gave me earlier. I sat on the chair beside the vending machine and took my time to rest and drink. It took me 20 minutes to empty the can.

I threw the can on the trash can and decided to go home. There are still students that are on their way home while some are going to the Shopping District Island. It only took me seven minutes to arrive from Building A to the train station. The next train will arrive after twk minutes so I waited for it silently when somebody stood beside me and spoke.

"It's quite unusual to see you here in this time," the person beside me said.

Maybe she's talking to me so I looked at her out of good will. What I saw is a girl with a long black hair that looks very silky even by just looking on it. Her slender body and slightly more than average height makes her look like a matured college student, in addition to her skirt that exposes her legs.

"I prefer if you don't talk me out of nowhere," I said to her while staring to her coldly.

"I won't do it after you knew one of my most embarassing secret," she said while giggling.

"Is that so? Then I'll post on the 'Fourth Update' that Harumi Mirai is a-"

"You really want to visit hospital that bad, huh?"

"Nah. I'm just kidding. Don't take it seriously," I said and averted my eyes away from her.

This is our second time talking to each other. The first one is three days ago when she threatened me about her secret. She's just a silent student who minds her own business. I guess I can consider myself lucky because as far as I know, I'm the only one she talked to. That thing makes for everyone to become friends with her.

The train arrived. We both entered it and the most of the seats were vacant so I randomly chose one. I don't know why but she chose the seat on my right side so we ended up sitting close together. That caused some of the students, majority were first-years, to look at us. This is just a coincidence, I swear.

"These annoying people. They're all staring to me like crazy," she murmured.

"Don't say that conscious of your current status in this academy?"

"At first, I'm not. But they caused me to slowly become conscious. Seriously, I want them all to be expelled here," she said, not hiding her irritation to me.

"Then why don't you have duel with them?"

"Are you stupid? What if they're stronger than me? It looks like I'm asking for my own death to come right now."

"Oh, okay. My bad."

As the train moves, we can now see the vastness of the blue ocean that extends beyond what our naked eyes could see. The windows were slightly opened causing Harumi-san's long black hair to sway. The strands of her hair were hitting my face countless times and she's not noticing it or maybe it is intentional. All of the boys were staring at me so bad that they want to kill me right now.

Harumi-san looked to me when she noticed that her hair hits someone. She immediately move to her right and fixed her hair.

"I'm sorry. I didn't noticed it earlier," she said with either mockery or apologetic.

"It's okay."

We arrived at the Dormitory Island after two minutes. The students who are here in the train station is not that too many so you can head count it if you want. We didn't said our farewells to each other. We're not friends or even acquaintance so it is a given.

"Hey."

Someome from behind called me. It was Harumi-san. She held her bag that was hanging on her right shoulder. Her face gives off the expression of intimidation so I'm quite scared of what will happen next.

"You said that you don't want to socialize with others, right?"

"Huh? Why did you asked about it?"

That question from her caught me off-guard. Everyone would also feel the same if it came from out of nowhere.

"Look. I also don't want to go along with everyone. But it is unacceptable that someone here knows my little secret," she said while looking left and right to see if someone was nearby but there's none. "I guess it's not bad to have at least one acquaintance around. And besides, I think our ideology intersects," she continued and her lips slightly curled upward.

"Do what you want to do," I replied.

I couldn't think of a proper response so I just spat out random words. Having Akane-senpai, the student council vice president, as my first friend makes me very weary. What happened today is unforeseeable so that's why I feel it right now.

"Then starting from now, call me Mirai. I'll also do the same to you, Hiji."

"T-T-That was too sudden," I said in a slight embarrassing manner.

Haru- Mirai-san giggled after hearing my response. She's already showing her side of being unpredictable.

"See you tomorrow, Hiji," she said and left me alone.

I followed her through my gaze. What she said is half truth, half lie. It is true that both of us don't want to socialize to each other but she didn't know that I have ulterior motives behind it. There's no rule about using someone for your personal advantage. I need to use every solution that is possible for me to survive inside this hell-like academy. I need someone who is influential that I can manipulate behind without everyone, even that someone, noticing it. I already have someone in my mind that I can use as a puppet.

As I started to walk heading to the Building H, where my room is, I'm currently brainstorming on how to make a good relationship with her, deepen it and use her to my heart's content.

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