Chapter 42:

Side Story 2: The Way of Sachiko Amakawa

Confession Games

The Amakawa's have been close to the Arisugawa's since the Meiji era, when both clans made their first foot into the business world. The Arisugawa's found their place on the political side of power, while the Amakawa's became prominent lords of the entertainment sector, with both families maintaining their power to this day.

Sachiko Amakawa was the third daughter and fourth child of the Amakawa family leader, so it was no surprise that she became close friends with Hinata Arisugawa who was born two months after her. However, no one could have expected that when Hinata decided to rebel against her family's decision, Sachiko was the first to support her. Both children possessed talents worthy of their family names and rarely caused trouble, but everyone could understand that being spoiled made Hinata unwilling to endure for the success of the family, as they had been through similar times. However, as a middle school student, Hinata possessed no card that could triumph over her parents' decision.

But once she heard about Hinata's situation, Sachiko, who was always praised as the most sophisticated lady of her generation, threw away her reputation in order to bring the Arisugawa couple to a compromise. Since that day, Hinata would never forget the debt she owed her, but Sachiko never saw it as a debt. To her, it was only natural to save her best friend.

Moving on, years passed and Sachiko came to Yorukobi Academy with Hinata. No longer burdened by her own responsibilities as an Amakawa, she looked forward to devoting her time to her best friend who she would be living together with. However, much to her dismay, she was dragged back into the spotlight sooner than she imagined.

It was two days after the start of school that she received her first confession here. The one confessing to her was a second year so she looked at him with disdain for bothering her this early in the school year, but she felt troubled on how to respond.

Back in middle school, she was fairly popular so she learnt how to be both gentle and firm in her rejections, but from that experience she also knew that the gentle approach wouldn't stop additional suitors from popping up. 

Although Hinata told her that she didn't have to be too mindful of her, Sachiko had no intention of leaving her alone in this strange school even if it was her decision to come here. Therefore, she couldn't allow herself to be shackled by puppy love.

With that in mind, Sachiko rejected the boy with words so harsh that he dropped to the ground while trembling in fear and embarrassment. Considering how far she went, it wouldn't be strange if she became an outcast, but she wasn't concerned about that as long as she could stay with Hinata.

Unfortunately, things backfired in a way she never could have predicted. As word spread about her vicious tongue, more boys and girls confessed to her. It was around this time that Hinata started to be called the 'smiling devil', but she accepted that moniker with pride. However, Sachiko would never acknowledge being called 'Queen'.

In order to decrease her popularity, Sachiko studied extensively on how to mentally break a person, a skill she gained through effort while Hinata gained it through talent. Even so, she received a growing number of love letters as if to respond to her efforts.

Tired of this trend, one day, on a whim, she decided to let one of the boys who said he liked her, stay by her side. She made it clear that they weren't dating, but he still gladly agreed. 

Sachiko discreetly paid close attention to the boy to try and figure out why he was attracted to the thorny girl she portrayed, and in her search, she found scars left behind by terrible family circumstances. Sachiko felt pity for this boy who developed a strange fetish due to family background, so she counselled him as best as she could to offer some form of healing to those scars.

It was due to these actions that she was secretly known as the 'misunderstood saint', but that rumour wouldn't reach her ears until further in the future.

As Sachiko went about her early high school career, healing lost souls and supporting her best friend, Hinata received a pivotal offer from their homeroom teacher. It was to join a club that the staff was making to encourage co-ed extracurricular activities. Sachiko knew that Hinata had her own reasons for accepting the offer, but without even trying to prod her for them she found a way to secure herself a spot as well. At that time, Hinata felt sorry but also thankful that she stuck with her.

The club was called the High School Life Assistance Club. Sachiko had wanted to take part in the discussion involving the naming of the club, but she had already promised Hinata that she would only make a move when she asked her to. Proud that she was trying to work independently, Sachiko swore to uphold that promise.

However, she made sure to carefully examine each of the other club members to see if they would be a threat to Hinata.

The biggest threat was Ryuuto Zakushi. He didn't seem to possess much in terms of ambition, but his keen insight and aloof attitude made him a troublesome one. Despite her experience in dealing with other heirs and heiresses of high class society, he was someone she had to be careful with.

Next was Kanami Kirisaki. She seemed like the type to never doubt her friends and hated conflict, but that nature along with her influential cuteness would make it difficult for anyone to stand against her. It was very important that they keep her appeased, lest the entire school become their enemy.

Lastly was Haruto Akishiro. It didn't take long for her to figure out that he had a crush on Hinata, but that was all. Compared to the rest of the club, he was so normal that she wondered if he was supposed to be some sort of insurance, but from what she could tell he wouldn't be much of a threat. That was her first impression of him, and that impression stayed the same until she realised that both Zakushi and Kirisaki were quickly getting closer to him.

It was odd to her, but there was nothing strange about their relationship as clubmates, in fact, them getting closer was what Hinata wanted so she tried not to mind it too much. However, when he was revealed as a member of the club, she realised that he was the key to the club's survival. He normally held no power, but the moment he was in trouble Zakushi and Kirisaki were eager to help him. Hinata was fine with him quitting if he couldn't handle such trivial issues, but if he quit then the club would likely end.

Sachiko considered telling Hinata about this, but she didn't want to make her overly conscious of the boy either. She eventually settled with explaining to Hinata that if they let one of their members be forced out of the club too easily, it would leave a smudge on their reputation. Although she was lacking when it came to interpersonal relationships, Hinata was quick to understand these topics when they were explained to her so Sachiko knew she didn't have to worry anymore.

However, Sachiko would eventually have a new concern. On the day when Akishiro was involved with the KKFC, Hinata made her give Hiroki and Kirisaki's location to him. It was a very appropriate action to take, but Sachiko was surprised to see Hinata show regard for someone else. Whether she was overthinking or that boy had truly managed to elevate his status in her heart, she didn't know. However, on the slight chance that he was the one Hinata was looking for, she would have to make sure that he could bear the pressure of standing next to a member of the Arisugawa family.