Chapter 95 Ground Consolidation - Part 1

 The second day of the second semester midterm examinations has ended without a hitch.
 The exam period is scheduled to end in the morning, and the students are expected to finish their homeroom before lunch.
「Chihiro-kun, let's eat lunch」
 Aika had made a bento for Chihiro since he had to work for the student council during the exam period. Aika says that the food she cooks is the same as the one she cooks when she comes home, so she must have put a lot of effort into it.
 As their classmates came home one after another and they had lunch together, they parted at the stairs on the second floor.
「Well, be careful」
 If someone had heard them, they would have wondered why they were talking that way. 
 Of course, Chihiro would be careful with Suzu. 
 ...Just for the record, it's unlikely that she'll come down hard on him right away.
 After all, if she does, she would have done it right there.
 And when he thinks about it, the reason why Suzu is under the protection of Yuu-chan or Principal Ootori, though she feels annoyed, is because there must be a reason to do so.
 And the reason is probably financial.
 But at the very least, she can't afford a hideout to kidnap and imprison Chihiro, and it will take some time for her to come up with a plan to separate herself from Principal Ootori. Though, there will be no other collaborators who can compete with Principal Ootori.
 Also, Suzu's desire seems to be a slow and continuous daily life. There is almost no line of elopement or forced suicide.
 So, the current situation is relatively safe.
 However, just to be on the safe side, he will remain vigilant. He has calculated that Suzu will not barge into the student council room.
 Given that, this corridor may be the most dangerous.
 On the way to the student council room, Yotsuba was working on something on a small bulletin board on the wall.
 At the sound of Chihiro's voice, she turned and smiled.
「Good afternoon, Izumi-kun.」
「Good afternoon. ...Are you changing the posters?」
 She seemed to be fiddling with some posters and studs in the corners.
「Oh, no. Some of the posters were peeling off, so I was fixing them」
 Chihiro looked at it and saw that the poster had been put up by a group other than the student council.
 Well, in that case, this was in the category of school beautification, and this job was more the work of the Public Morals Committee. But――
「I think the right thing to do is to let the person who noticed it do the work」
「Do you often fix such things?」
「Yes, I do. Although I don't take the trouble to look around in corridors that are normally not used」
 In other words, if the corridor is used, people will notice it.
 And the fact that Yotsuba notices it so often means that other people are not concerned about it.
 ...It also means that people who choose the least are unevenly distributed.
 They probably don't even bother to notify the school. If they do, they will not act voluntarily, which is not in line with Yotsuba's philosophy.
「Isn't it hard? To fix it every time?」
「No. I'm just doing what I have to do」
 Yotsuba walked slowly away from the bulletin board.
 Chihiro followed her to the student council room.
「Those who are able to afford it should use it not only for themselves but also for someone else who can't, right?」
「Noblesse oblige... is it?」
「Yes. It's a nice word. I remember my father telling me about it when I was little and I was impressed」
 Those who have, work for those who don't.
 Well, Yotsuba was born and raised in a rich family, and if she follows this philosophy, she will always live her life caring for others.
 Born into a prominent family and as a talented [Lost Item].
 ...If that's the case, it's quite appalling.
 But at least Chihiro should do what he can to help her.
「What's wrong, Izumi-kun?」
 Yotsuba looked back at Chihiro who suddenly stopped.
 The student council room was almost there, but as he recalled the events of his encounter with Yotsuba, he suddenly came across an association.
「Um, Kurohane-senpai. There's something I'd like to talk to the principal. But do you know when he’s available?」
 Yotsuba tilted her head in wonder at the sudden request.
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「It's a strange combination」
「I'm sorry. Izumi-kun wanted to talk to the principal」
「Him, huh?」
 Soon Yotsuba was taking Chihiro to the Principal's office.
 After her, Chihiro entered the room and closed the door. When he turned around, he felt Principal Ootori's eyes on him.
 He gave a nod to the man who implicitly asked him what he wanted.
「...Well, leave me alone with him from here. You can return ahead」
「All right. See you later, Izumi-kun」
 Yotsuba obediently followed Principal Ootori's instructions.
 Then, Chihiro bowed to her as she left the room.
 But he made sure that the door closed before turning around.
「I didn't expect you to bring her along」
 As soon as they were alone, Principal Ootori reverted to a rough tone and muttered so.
 It seems that he hates Chihiro a lot.
「I'm sorry. I assumed you were busy」
「If you're going to retract what you said yesterday, I'm not going to listen」
 He shook his head, pained by the straightforward and rejecting response.
「...I was going to tell you that I met her right after that」
「I know. Suzu yelled at me, after all」
 After saying so, Principal Ootori glared at Chihiro.
 He stiffened, but Principal Ootori quickly let out a sigh and relaxed his expression.
「Just kept your word. Although it is a bit annoying」
「I'm sorry」
「Don't apologize. When you apologize, I want to take out my anger on you」
 When Chihiro looked at him, he could definitely feel his anger.
「So that's [Mind-reading], huh? ...A nasty ability」
 His word made Chihiro's heart ache.
 But people had said that to him many times before.
 The fact that there were people who wanted this ability near him, and that his classmates had recently become more tolerant of it, brought back a feeling he had forgotten.
 ...Why does it keep happening, one after the other?
 The reality hits him hard like a reversal of his happiness.
 As if to say that happiness obtained in a twisted way is only temporary.
「She said she wouldn't give up. She might do something crazy」
「Yeah, but I'll handle it. You just do nothing, and when you see Suzu, push her away like you did yesterday. That should be fine」
「Yes, I understand」
 That's all Chihiro need to do. Tell Principal Ootori what happened and it'll be fine.
 So, after settling this, he bowed his head and was about to leave but Principal Ootori stopped him.
「Take this with you」
 He took out a business card from his pocket and wrote something on it.
「I wrote my private address on it. Next time you need anything, send it there」
「Thank you」
 He thanked him, and this time he turned to face the door.
 When he put his hand on the doorknob, he suddenly wondered.
「Principal, are you her lover?」
「...No. Suzu has her own lover」
 His voice had a sad sound to it.
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