Chapter 95 Ground Consolidation - Part 2

 Unexpectedly, the conversation with Principal Ootori yielded many benefits.
 The last words were especially significant.
「She has her own lover... That's what the principal said. So, he's truly just a guardian」
「If he's going to lie, that's a strange way to answer」
 Well, if Principal Ootori going to lie, it's more effective to say he's her lover.
 Maybe there's a reason he can't do that, or maybe he just said the truth.
 Either way, it seemed to be the truth.
「Maybe the principal didn't want to talk to it, so he was appeasing Chihiro-kun?」
「...I don't know. But maybe Suzu-san would have forced him to the edge」
 It seems that the situation might be a bit more complicated.
 And at present, the information they have also too fragmented to make any guesses. 
 Chihiro want to get more information somehow.
 However, he and his team had limited options.
 They tried to search the web, but found no information about Suzu. For Principal Ootori, they could only find a brief biography, but no information on his family or relationship.
 Ootori Yuuji.
 He is an ordinary person, not a [Lost Item]. He went to art school from a private preparatory school, and became the principal of the private Shibahou Academy a short time after graduation.
「Why did he become the principal of a school after graduating from art school?」
「Looks like a recommendation from a blood relative or something. After all, the previous principal's last name was also "Ootori"」
「...Did he give up on his dream?」
 The previous principal's name was Ootori Shuusuke. According to their research, this Ootori Shuusuke was thirty years old when he took the position as Principal.
 Counting backwards from the date, there just a seven or eight year age difference between him and the current chair, Ootori Yuuji.
「Is he his relative, or is he his big brother?」
 This person's family and marriage history were also unknown. Well, he's not so famous that he deserves a separate page in an electronic encyclopedia.
 ...But now, this seems to be the limit of what everyone can find out with almost no risk.
 Regardless of whether checking the school's documents or asking people who know more about them, investigating about Suzu or Principal Ootori at this moment would be suspicious. Especially, Chihiro doesn't want to make too many public moves.
 He is also hesitant to ask Maisaka for help. He may be able to give him some information, but he is not an ally. There is no guarantee that he will not pass on the information that Chihiro is investigating to Principal Ootori.
 In this situation, it would be nice if there were connections.
 And the first thing that comes to mind is Maria's house, but Chihiro can't rely on "that person". This is also true from an emotional point of view, and from the previous incident, it seems dangerous to rely on "that person" easily.
 So, the only thing he can think of is.
「I wonder if I can ask Hana」
 Her parents must have been a wealthy family or something.
 He doesn't know exactly how rich they are, what kind of connections they have, and how close they are to Hana, but compared to Chihiro himself, Riko and Aika, it's quite possible.
「But, do you think she'll cooperate?」
「I'm sure she'll react differently if you ask her...」
 In response to Riko's concern and Maria's suggestion, Chihiro thought about it and shook his head.
「...No, I'll do it this time. I think it's better if we consider it later」
「Chihiro-kun, what do you mean?」
「I think we should bring Hana into "our side" while we can」
 Though, he's not entirely sure if he can.
 ☆   ☆   ☆
「No, I don't want to」
「...I know it」
 After school the next day, Chihiro called Hana to the private training room - with Aika, just in case - and talked to her after lunch.
 Hana sniffed as she chewed on a sandwich she had bought from the store.
 As a thank you for listening to her, Chihiro paid for Hana's lunch.
「There is no merit in cooperating. In fact, there are many disadvantages. I wouldn't voluntarily step into a dangerous place」
 Chihiro's plan was to "gain allies before the full-scale conflict".
 Well, from Hana's point of view, it would be a great loss if she approached Chihiro knowing that a crisis was imminent and was regarded as his ally.
 So, if she keeps her current position one step back, she will be able to avoid collateral damage even if Principal Ootori disposes of Chihiro in the future.
「If we continue like this, there's a possibility that Maria might be in danger...」
 He tried to pull out his sword, but.
「I'm not going to take that chance. I don't think the principal will let more students drop out without a second thought too. But If Izumi-kun really intends to take Maria-chan to the point where you can't get her back, I'll kill you right here and now」
「S-She hates you, doesn't she? Chihiro-kun」
 Aika gives a slightly drawn out smile then she spoke again. 
「But if Hana-chan is serious, I won't let you do that」
「Well, I wouldn't do that. Not at the moment」
 Hana exhaled.
 She crumples up the bag of sandwiches she has just eaten and puts the straw from the strawberry milk carton in her mouth.
 She gulps down the milk and opens her mouth again.
「In the first place, this is Izumi-kun's own fault, isn't it? You've been caught by a crazy woman and now you're being complained about by the people involved, right?」
 That was a valid point.
 No matter how much Suzu was interested in Chihiro, an adult who asks a high school student to have sexual intercourse with her is not normal. Suzu had a pretty good character for hiding her identity, and Chihiro was too careless to fall for such a suspicious woman.
「...But, please don't say too much bad about Suzu-san. I'm sure she had her own reasons」
 After all, the last time he saw her, she was very distressed.
 When she said she wanted him to accept everything about her, he felt something similar to Maria.
「You're so soft, as usual」
「You're so harsh」
「Well, I can't possibly be soft on Izumi-kun. Besides, you owe me more than I owe you. If you're going to ask me for a favor, why don't you at least finish that first?」
 Here it comes.
 Chihiro knew Hana was obsessed with that owe, so in a way it was expected that this topic would come up.
 She'll probably say that until Chihiro repays the favor, so it's definitely necessary to get rid of it as soon as possible.
 ...Having no choice, Chihiro decided to carry out a plan that he had been thinking about for a while.
「About that, Hana...」
「What is it?」
「There's a girl I'd like you to date, if you don't mind. How about we call it even?」
 She hadn't expected that.
 Hana made a silly noise and opened her mouth.
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