Chapter 400 Sometimes JK, Like a Detective

[Claudia POV]

 I secured Hanabusa-chan's SNS account when I took her home as a substitute for Fumio.
 This is just a precaution.
 It's not very likely, but it's just in case Fumio wants to corrupt Hanabusa-chan, to make sure that it'll be useful.
 I sent her a message first thing in the morning and arranged to meet her during lunch break.
 The place was the landing of the stairs leading to the rooftop.
 The excuse was to ask for advice.
 As long as I say this, girls usually take it as a love talk, and as I expected, Hanabusa-chan's reply came soon.
 Of course, she said yes.
 At first, I was going to visit her classroom directly, but Fumio stopped me.
 Speaking for myself, I surely stand out. I'm a gaijin, after all.
 Fumio says that there is a girl in his class who is in contact with Shiratori, and if this girl finds out about it, there is a possibility that Shiratori will tell her.
 It seems that Fumio is suspicious of Shiratori.
 I am emotionally happy about this situation, but rationally, I think it's a very bad idea.
 Although Shiratori is an annoying person, I personally do not want to antagonize Shiratori.
 I know it may be called a loser's spirit, but because of the way she beat me to a pulp, my sister and I are now treated as domesticated animals, less than human beings.
 Though I don't really mind that now.
「Minami, can you come with me because I'm going to talk to Hanabusa-chan, who said she was a victim of bullying?」
 When I told her this as soon as lunch break started, Minami looked puzzled.
「What kind of change of mind? Last time, you said I should just leave it alone」
「The situation has changed. This is Fumio's order」
 Minami's expression turns grim.
「Why's that guy getting involved in the basketball club?」
 At times like this, a woman who hasn't fallen properly is a pain in the ass.
 But Fumio says to do it. There is no need for any more reason than that, but I have to convince her every time.
「That's because Hanabusa is Fumio's beloved little sister's best friend.」
「Don't tell me... is he going to poison Hanabusa-san, too?」
 Minami revealed caution, to which I responded with a sigh.
「You know, Minami, you are already Fumio's girl. I hope you understand that, but as for Hanabusa, I don't think Fumio has the slightest ulterior motive.」
「Who's that guy's girl!」
 Minami shouts out in a reflexive voice, then looks around hurriedly. Knowing that she was in a panic, I whispered softly into her ear.
「But, didn't you already made love to Fumio last night, while you were fantasizing about him raping you?」
「A-Are you an idiot! Of course not!」
 The color that clings to her words is red. Why didn't she just be honest?
「Well, anyway, Fumio has no intention to touch Hanabusa. He just wants to protect his little sister's best friend.」
「Wanting to protect... isn't he a bad guy?」
「Fumio is that kind of a guy. For example, if someone does something bad to Minami. Like hurt you, or hurt you violently, or whatever. If that happens, I'm sure Fumio will crush them thoroughly.」
「You mean for my sake?」
「Yes, it's not only Minami, but even me, who's treated like livestock. Fumio is a tyrant, but he takes good care of his things.」
 Minami looks as if she has a wet rag pressed on her face, and we leave the classroom.
 When we arrived at the meeting place, Hanabusa-chan was already there waiting for us.
「Oh, sorry I'm late」
「Ah, it's nothing... more importantly, who's this?」
 Hanabusa-chan asked as she glanced at Minami.
「Minami is my classmate and a member of the public morals committee」
 At the mention of "a member of the public morals committee," Hanabusa-chan looked as if something struck her.
 She had probably seen Minami's face at least once before, when there was an inspection of students' belongings at the school gate or something.
「So... Claudia-senpai, what did you want to talk to me about?」
「Well, I'm going to ask you straight out, Hanabusa-chan, are you being bullied in the club?」
 When I said this, Minami raised her eyes at me.
 It's a common practice in interrogation to start with a small talk to lighten up the conversation, but for me, it's a waste of time.
「Ah, geez... Senpai, that's not true...」
 Her smile is somewhat hard.
 And the color that clings to her words is red.
 I look at Minami. Then, she gently handed a piece of letter paper to Hanabusa-chan.  
「I received this letter addressed to a member of the public morals committee. This is about you, isn't it, Hanabusa-san? Don't worry, we don't intend to make it a big problem. We will try not to cause any trouble to the club」
 Hanabusa-chan stared at the letter paper and then opened her mouth as if she was resigned to the situation.
「I'm sorry... Actually」
 Her story can be summarized as follows.
 Kaitou, the ace of the club, has left the club. She directly nominated Hanabusa-chan to be a regular member of the team, even though she is a first-year student.
 The uniform for the game is a hand-me-down from Kaitou, and it has her ace number on it.
 After practice on her first day as a regular, she returned to the locker room to find that the match uniform was missing.
「So, did you find the uniform?」
 When Minami asked her, Hanabusa's voice trembled slightly.
「Yes... It was cut into pieces and stuffed in the toilet」
「...That's terrible」
 Minami covered her mouth, but I let my thoughts wander.
 I'm a detective, after all. I can at least guess the mind of the culprit.
 It's jealousy, no doubt. The fact that the culprit cut it into pieces, instead of hiding or stealing it, seems to be a very impulsive act.
 As for the clogged toilet, it seems more likely that the culprit tried to cover it up by flushing it down the toilet, rather than harassing the victim.
 So far, the color of her story is "blue".
 She wasn't lying.
 However, there is a discrepancy with what Fumio told me.
「Wait, wait a minute! I heard that Hanabusa-chan still wears the uniform for the match to the practice.」
「Uh... The one I'm wearing now is a replica. When I found the uniform in the restroom, Sakon-san was with me, and she is an extremely devoted fan of Kaitou-senpai, and she had a replica of the uniform with Kaitou-senpai's number on it...」
「A replica...?」
「Yes. Sakon-san said, "I couldn't allow anyone to oppose Kaitou-senpai's decision," with an angry look on her face... Then, she gave me that replica. She said she had two more replicas.」
「That's not the level of a fan anymore...」
「I was angry too, and I wanted to show the cowards that I won't let that beat me...」
「So you started practicing in that uniforms for the match.」
「That's right.」
「...I see.」
 Minami makes an indescribable face, and Hanabusa-chan smiles.
「Thanks to that, the second-year seniors don't like me because they think I'm trying to be mean to them, and even the manager is kindly scolding me not to provoke them.」
 So far, her story is all blue, with some shades of gray. I am sure this is the truth.
「Do you have any idea about this letter?」
 Minami asks, and Hanabusa-chan opens her mouth with some difficulty.
「Maybe... I think it might be Sakon-san's... She was very worried about me... and the handwriting looks like hers.」
「So, Hanabusa-chan, who do you think is the person who cut up your uniform?」
 At my question, Hanabusa-chan's eyes swam for a while, then she opened her mouth slowly with her eyelashes down.
「...I don't have any proof, but I think it might be Mimura-senpai (Mimura Doremi/The boob girl)」

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