Just before the end of the first period, I left the girls' track and field club room after flirting with Nozomi who was in a state of melting.
And then, the second, third and fourth periods passed, and soon after the lunch break, I walked to the next classroom.
When I peeked into the classroom through the rear door, Claudia, who had spotted me, came running up to me happily. But when I said, "Call Shibata-san", she said, "Fumio is idiot", and kicked my shin lightly.
Since being punished would be a reward, I decided to neglect Claudia, and moved with a wary Shibata-san to the unpopulated emergency stairwell landing.
「So... what do you want...?」
She's in a [Submissive] state, so she won't go against me, but her guard is up.
「Don't be so frightened, I won't lay a finger on you now. I assure you. Shibata-san, you're looking into the girls' basketball club, aren't you?」
「Eh, yeah... what... about it?」
I briefly explain what has happened so far.
That my dear sister was injured in an accident protecting Hanabusa-san.
And it seems that Kitou was instructed to do so by someone from the girls' basketball club.
When I had finished speaking, Shibata-san looked at me with a questioning look.
「So... what are you going to do when you find this person?」
「I haven't thought about that yet... but if there's still a risk of harming Hanabusa-san or Saori-chan, then I can't avoid dealing with them, can I?」
As I said, Shibata-san gave me a surprising look.
「I thought you were going to do something terrible」
「I didn't say I wouldn't. I'm just saying that Saori-chan's and Hanabusa-san's safety is more important than that」
Exhaling heavily, Shibata-san said, "If that's what you mean..." and told me what she'd found out about the basketball club.
「There was a letter. There's bullying going on in the girls' basketball club. A second year is bullying a first year」
「No name, no details about the bullying... but after interviewing members of other clubs that use the gym at the same time as the basketball club, and some retired third-year students, I found that the relationship between the first-year student Hanabusa-san and the second-year students has worsened considerably...」
I had half-expected that Hanabusa-san would be the target of the bullying when I heard about it.
After all, as far as I can tell, Hanabusa-san is not the type of person that people dislike, nor does she have the kind of attitude that makes her a target.
Because I myself was bullied, so I am sure of it.
「What are the causes of bullying?」
「First of all, I'm not sure if it's right to call it bullying...」
Shibata-san said that the reason was that Hanabusa-san had won the regular position over the second-year students. She also wore the uniform of a regular player to practice.
「In fact, when I talked to them, no one seemed to have a problem with her becoming a regular. However, by wearing the regular uniforms, she seems to be displeasing the second-year players who are not in the regular team」
「Is that the reason someone told a guy to hit her with a motorcycle?」
「Who knows? But when I talked to the second year directly, they didn't seem to think they were bullying her either... at most, they were yelling at her and ignoring her」
「Ignoring is a form of bullying」
I don't really understand what girls are thinking in this area.
These girls may think nothing of ignoring someone, but it's not easy for someone whom their whole existence is denied with a casual feeling.
Lili once said that human beings are creatures that live according to how people treat them, defining themselves and becoming what they are. Ignoring a person is like whispering in their ear, "You're worthless, I don't need you, go away".
If this is not bullying, what is it?
「Are you saying it's not bullying because they didn't do anything violent?」
「...That's true, but...」
Now, this school is very sensitive to scandals.
Violence will be an instant problem. Even club activities can be discontinued without question, so violence is not an option.
Whose fault was it, of course, it was me.
But even if violence is put aside, it is logical to say that someone tried to injure Hanabusa-san in order to deprive her of a regular position.
But what is the point of Shibata-san's story that no one had a problem with her being a regular?
Moreover, what makes me even more uncomfortable is the fact that Hanabusa is acting in such a condescending manner.
I've not known her very long, but she doesn't seem to me like the kind of girl who would do something like that.
「I don't have a definitive clue...」
As soon as I muttered this, a voice suddenly came down from above me, as if in disbelief.
「Are you stupid?」
Looking up, I see a girl's face peering at me from the upper floor landing.
Her eyes are sullen and glaring. She narrowed her eyes and stared at me as if making fun of me.
「"...Shiratori-san". Why are you here?」
「I usually take refuge here during my lunch break. Because Takasago tries to fall asleep on my lap」
She came down with a lazy gait, squinting at me with one eye.
「King... please don't disappoint me too much」
「What do you mean... disappoint you?」
「Well... okay. Just identify the person who instructed the Hanabusa girl to have the accident, right?」
「Eh... well, yes.」
「Well, now that you mention it, all the information is there. At least if it's Chibidevi, she has already found the culprit」
Chibidevi must mean Lili.
Shiratori-san stared at me for a while, and then let out a sigh of exasperation, "Huh...".
Shibata-san looked puzzled, and kept looking back and forth between me and Shiratori-san.
「People don't act in ways that don't fit their personalities for some reason. Isn't the uniform what you should be focusing on? Why are you trying to stir things up? Even if someone yells at you or ignores you, there's only one reason to wear it」
「"Because I had to wear it"」
「What? What does that mean...?」
I asked, puzzled, and Shiratori-san laughed snidely and turned his back on me.
「Why don't you use your head a little? After that, if you keep repeating why things are the way they are, you'll get to the culprit」
With that, she walked off down the stairs.
Shibata-san and I, who were left behind, looked at each other and nodded our heads.