"So, shall we get going too?" Kyouko proposed.
"Yeah. Let's go! Let's go!" Kaori raised both of her arms in the air with a broad smile. She took her pink bag and carried it on her back. The rest of them followed suit, readying themselves to leave.
"Well then, I'll be taking my leave first. Please excuse me." Denji bowed then ran towards the door, intent on leaving first. He opened the door and stepped out of the room and promptly closed it behind him. The moment he did, he felt a sudden force struck his neck as he was violently dragged across the hallway. The mysterious person wrapped their arm around his neck and pinned him to the wall, subjecting Denji’s entire body to aching pain.
"You never fail to impress me..." A familiar voice of a man whispered. Denji twisted his face in pain and clenched his teeth, as he attempted to discover the voice's identity.
"W-Watamoto-senpai..?" Denji spoke with not even a hint of shock at Minoru who wore a contemptuous smirk.
"Or is disappointed the better word?" Minoru bent his lips to form a wicked grin.
"What... are you... talking about..?" Denji asked. He gasped for air as he tried to release himself from Minoru's grip.
"You were laughing at her weren't you?" Minoru whispered, pressing their faces closer together. Denji felt traces of his spittle enter his ear and caught the scent of Minoru’s minty breath.
"'I feel the same way, I'll make sure not to hold back. Even against you, Takahashi.' You couldn't have said that seriously," Minoru jabbed at him.
"Again... what are you talking about..?" Denji once more asked. His frustration soon turned into desperation. He practically dug his nails through Minoru's arms. Over and over, he tried to escape from his clutches. Over and over, he failed.
Feelings of all kinds vanished from Denji; Pain was the only thing left remaining.
Both physical, and mental pain overwhelmed his entire body. After all, he was simply putting up a hopeless act of ignorance. He wanted him to shut up, not say anything further. Or else he would have no other choice—
"Don't play dumb with me, Mr. Two-Face. You Spoiled brat, sore loser, your red hair looks stupid on you." Minoru's relentless insults kept coming and continued inflicting torment upon Denji.
"Fuck off..!" Denji felt a sudden rush as his frustration reached a boiling point. He pushed Minoru away and hoisted him up by the collar of his uniform. He raised a fist brimming with pent-up rage, aimed at Minoru. However, the scornful and smug look on his face remained.
"Resorting to violence now, eh? Did I strike a nerve?" He continued to rub salt to the wound. No longer able to hold himself back, Denji thrust his fist straight at Minoru.
"Denji-kun?" His fist stopped before it crashed into Minoru's face, only slightly grazing his raised cheeks. Kaori’s soft voice made him hesitate. He slightly turned his head, giving Kaori a sidelong glance.
"Psst. You wouldn't do it in front of her, now would you?" Minoru asked with the same look of disdain.
Never blinking even once when he was about to receive a direct blow, rendering Denji's act of intimidation fruitless.
"What are you doing? Denji-kun?" Kaori asked with concern on her face. The same expression was also present in Denji, replacing his prior aggressive look. How much had she seen? How long had she been there?
"Tch..." Giving up, Denji let go of Minoru, tasting the bitter taste of defeat as he did.
"Watamoto-senpai? You're still here?" Kaori tilted her head slightly to the side.
"Heya! Yep!" Minoru appeared from behind Denji and waved at her gleefully. In response to his cheerful attitude, however, the pained look on Kaori did not disappear. Noticing her gaze, Minoru quickly dropped his act, narrowing his eyes at her then shifted his sights to the petrified Denji.
"Out of all the candidates, you're the one I least want to win." He whispered. Denji only stood in silence, with a dead stare. The only light came from the sunset that slightly tinged his irises.
"Say what you want, nobody cares about what you think..." He mumbled.
"That was cold, Denji-kun~."
"Though as much as I hate to admit it... you're right. Your popularity is scary. The weight of a single contrary opinion won't hold even a single iota of influence to tide your chances of losing."
"If you know that... then why? why do this?"
"I did say a single opinion right? I'm not the only person who doesn't like you."
"A-Are you saying you'll be pulling strings in the shadows...? You… you'd go this far for someone you hate?"
Denji choked on his words. His sullen eyes blankly stared off below at the concrete floor. His small shadow gradually diminished as the sun continued to set. Once the sun completely vanishes from the sky, his shadow would surely follow, and so would his dwindling confidence.
"You think I'm going too far? Look at yourself and your sad attempt at being noticed by a girl. Although playing the devil might seem fun, ultimately, I care little whether you win the election or not,” remarked Minoru. Kaori only grew impatient at the two boys who neglected her presence.
"Stop ignoring me, you two...what were you two about to do?" She interjected, raising her voice unnaturally. She approached them in a firm, almost forceful, and demanding manner.
"Nothing! Nothing! We were just talking, that's all." Minoru noticed Kaori’s figure inching closer.
"Just... talking? Then why did it look like Denji was about to..."
"It seems you're in bi~g trouble." He whispered one last time to Denji and patted his shoulder. He began to walk off.
"Watamato-senpai, wait a minute!"
"Why don't you try asking the guy next to you?" Minoru briefly paused, glancing back as he asked. He continued down the hallway, the sound of thuds echoed as he took slow and loud steps. Kaori reached out her hand, which only clutched the air.
"Wait!" She yelled. This time, Minoru ignored her—disappearing as he proceeded down the stairs. She bit her lip and retracted her hand. She stood unmoving for a few seconds, thinking to herself before turning her head to the side.
Denji stood firmly—frozen in time—like a statue.
"...Denji-kun? Are you alright?" Kaori asked. She placed her soft, white hands on his shoulder and gently shook him.
"He..." He murmured and paused. His stiff face twisted to a different expression, and he began to laugh to himself. A muted, noiseless laugh that not even Kaori could hear. She only saw his head quiver.
"Denji-kun?" Once more, she asked. However, her words couldn't reach him. Her warm and kind voice couldn't move his frozen heart; it could not mend his broken resolve.
"It's nothing... you don't have to worry about it," he lied.
"Huh?" Kaori stood dumbfounded.
"It's nothing..." He continued to lie, or was he simply convincing himself so?
"Denji... you... no, why?—"
The sound of a door being slid open interfered with their discussion. Kaori snuck a glance behind her and saw the remaining Student Council Members leave the room, one by one.
"Shall we set off then?" Kyouko said.
"P-President..?" Kaori said with her eyebrows raised in perplexion as she focused her attention on Kyouko and the rest of the Student Council members.
"Hmm? Matsushita-san, Miyamura-san, is something the matter?" Kyouko asked, her orange-red eyes directed at Miyamura.
Denji quietly let out a breathe then raised his head. His gaze met with Kyouko's and he unconsciously began to tremble slightly.
"It's nothing president, let's get going." A pained smile formed on his firm lips. He averted his eyes and directed them towards Kaori. Kyouko only lowered her eyebrows in response and gave him a look of doubt.
"Denji..." Kaori muttered under her breath. Denji gulped and approached Kaori slowly.
"Kaori-san... let's go..." He lowered his body slightly and whispered to her ear.
"Yeah... sorry..." Kaori bit her shivering lips and reluctantly complied.
"Hold it, you didn't do anything to Matsushita-san, did you?" Kyouko said. She crossed her arms and began to approach Denji.
"H-Huh? N-No, I didn't!"
"Are you telling the truth?" Kyouko pressed the issue forward.
"W-Wait, this is a misunderstanding! Denji-kun didn't do anything to me." Kaori defended him.
"Are you sure?" Kyouko adjusted her sights to Kaori. Denji gave her a frustrated look. He clenched his fists and gritted his teeth.
"What's with that look, Miyamura-san?" Kyouko redirected her gaze back to him and spoke demandingly. Denji panicked, stepping back. His hostile expression ceased.
"Kyouko, please stop this." Yuuto placed his hand on her shoulder and urged her to stop.
"I'm merely trying to make sure Matsushita-san is okay," Kyouko spoke matter-of-factly.
"No matter, I've already deduced the answer. Denji is innocent." She continued.
"W-What...?" Denji tilted his head sideways, he furrowed his brows with a bewildered look.
"Your body language led me to that conclusion," Kyouko stated.
"Jeez, Prez can be kind of scary sometimes," Haruka commented and gave a strained laugh.
"Well, Matsushita-san, shall we go now?" Kyouko asked.
"Y-Yeah," she replied.
"Denji?" Kyouko veered her attention towards the brooding Denji.
"I apologize for my prior rudeness, President." He sighed, then bowed deeply to Kyouko.
"I apologize!" he repeated louder.
"No. I should be the one apologizing. Sorry for scaring you so wipe that look off your face. That's not how a candidate should act."
"Yes..." He answered with faint traces of sorrow in his voice. Despite Kyouko's attempt at heartening his will, the lingering feelings of anguish only persisted, oppressively latching onto him like a parasite, gradually eating away at his degrading state of mind. He only bit his lip and painfully tried to endure. He slowly straightened himself and avoided meeting Kyouko's or anyone else's gaze.
Kyouko looked at Denji and heaved a sigh at his persisting dejection.
"As we are about to disband soon, I thought it would be a good idea if we could do one last thing together. How does a family restaurant sound? My treat of course," Kyouko suggested as she began to walk down the hallway. The rest of the members followed behind, with Denji at the very back.
"You serious, Kyouko?" Yuuto asked.
"Of course, this is the least that I can do. It's because of all of you that I was able to enjoy my final year here. From the bottom of my heart, truly, I am grateful." An unusual tender smile formed on Kyouko’s lips. It was one of the only few times she displayed a more vulnerable and soft side to her.
"Pres, don't be so sentimental... it's making me emotional too..." Haruka spoke in a shaky voice. Tears began to well up in her azure blue eyes. She averted her gaze and rubbed her eyes.
"Shirayuki-san, are you crying?" Kyouko teased her.
"Hah?! I-I'm not!" She argued, gently stroking her smooth black hair. Kyouko laughed at her flustered reaction. Haruka only pouted and flushed her cheeks.
"Sometimes, it feels good to be able to laugh like this. Thank you for making my time in the Student Council much more fun, everyone. I can only hope that the future generations can deliver a much better job than I did."
"No need to be so humble, you were undoubtedly one of the best Student Council Presidents in the school's entire history." Haruka's eyes light up in enthusiasm as she sincerely praised Kyouko.
"You flatter me, Shirayuki-san." Kyouko smiled awkwardly and scratched the side of her rosy cheeks with her finger.
"Not only were you the first person in 12 years to be re-elected as council president, but you also hold the highest percentage of votes in the entire school's history. An overwhelming 95% of the student body voted for you in your re-election." Haruka went off on a tangent expressing Kyouko's greatness with sparkling stars in her eyes.
"P-Please, that's enough, Shirayuki-san."
"It's not enough to describe everything a~mazing about you!"
"Haruka-san can get really out of hand fast when it comes to Kyouko," Yuuto said.
"It's a shame that Watamoto-san won't be able to join us," he added. Denji, who trailed behind the group, lowered his eyebrows as he heard that name.
"The fault is mine to bear. I should have informed you all about this earlier." Kyouko showed a slight frown.
"Nah, that guy probably wouldn't have wanted to either way..." Haruka shrugged.
"Hahahaha, I guess that is quite true, isn't it?" Kyouko laughed, her pained expression just earlier having dissipated.
The disbanding Student Council decided to spend their final moments as a group together. However, a rift began to form, slowly tearing apart the group’s relationship. How much more can Miyamura Denji take before he completely breaks down? Running away is an option, but it’s never a solution.
Behind all those, happy smiles and joyous laughs lay a sinister lie slowly taking root. Henceforth begins the downward spiral of Samija High School’s 45th Student Council.
Note: Sorry for the delay, I've been stuck in editing hell with this chapter, but thank you for being patient. I will be doing a prose edit of the entire novel so far, you don't have to reread it but if you would then you can. Since I'll be doing a prose edit, however, that means I'll be extremely busy(Once again) so probably no new chapter for at least a week or so, I apologize.