Chapter 67:

New Year, Old Problems

Couple That Can't Touch

School's second term ended a couple of days after Christmas. The eight of us got very good results, knowing we were about to enter the third and final term. Everyone gained a lot of places and Kawahara beat me to first place, which was surprising since I had studied a lot. I was happy for her but I was a bit jealous.

Then our two-week vacation started. Koji and I had planned to spend New Year's Eve with our families. However, Koji's dad unexpectedly asked Koji to invite me and my family to have dinner together. I got nervous, but there was no reason to refuse. I told my parents about it and they didn't hesitate to accept. I also told them they could invite Makoto and Haruma.

Koji and I soon realized we could take advantage of our families gathering together to tell them about the swapping, but we chose not to. We didn't want to ruin the evening and it was better to tell them while showing them the scientific proof explained by Mrs. Kawahara.

In short, New Year's Eve was extremely fun even with the awkward questions everyone kept asking us for their amusement. My family got to eat first-class food prepared by Koji and his dad, a worldwide-known chef. After eating, my family offered to help wash the dishes while waiting for midnight. We celebrated when the time arrived and kept chatting at Koji's house for a while before returning home.

A year full of surprises had ended. However, it didn't take long for the new year to surprise us. Only two weeks into it and only four days after returning to school, there was already a big problem.

About to go home after school, Asuka-sensei called Hisaki and Tomoki-san to her office. We were all skeptical, so we followed Hisaki to the office and waited outside. Except for Koji, who had work in the evening.

We heard some shouting as we waited, but we had no idea what they were arguing about. Hisaki came out five minutes later, clearly furious.

"What happened?" Narumi asked.

About to answer, Tomoki-san stepped out of the office and walked past all of us. Hisaki stared at him for a moment before running after him.

"Hey, jerk! What the hell are you trying to do?!" Hisaki yelled.

Tomoki-san turned around. Scared of what Hisaki could do, Hisa and Narumi grabbed his arms and pulled him back.

"Calm down!" Narumi shouted. "What's going on?"

Hisaki answered, "This dumbass is framing me for having a knife in my locker."


"I wouldn't get too close to him," Tomoki-san said. "I was lucky to be walking by when he was checking his locker and saw the knife. Who knows what he was planning to do. It's incredible that Asuka-sensei rewarded me with a temporary expulsion."

"You managed to get us both expelled, idiot."

"What's going on here?" Asuka-sensei asked as she walked out of her office. "I don't tolerate shouting in the hallways, so please go home; school is over for the day. I'll do my best to get the answer, but it might take a while. I'm sorry."

She walked away.

"You heard her. Have a nice evening," Tomoki-san said and walked away as well.

He's acting differently than usual.

"I can't believe him," Hisaki fumed.

"What happened exactly?" I asked.

Hisaki sighed. "Do you remember how they installed cameras around the school just before winter? That idiot asked Asuka-sensei to watch this morning's recording at a specific time. You can see how he's walking behind me as I'm checking my locker. Apparently, he saw a knife."

"How did a knife get in there?" Narumi questioned.

"I have no clue. No one knows my combination."

"Please tell me the combination isn't your birthday," Hisa said.

Hisaki stayed silent for a moment and ignored her. "The problem is that Asuka-sensei needs to find the exact moment the knife was placed inside, which will take a while. Meanwhile, she's expelled both of us temporarily."

"That sucks," Tarō said.

"I never thought Tomoki-san could do something like this. Why?" I wondered.

"Who knows," Hisaki replied. "There's nothing I can do, other than to wait."

"Don't worry, we'll help," Rem said.

Hisa nodded. "Let's ask everyone we see if they saw someone opening your locker."

"I doubt you'll find something," Hisaki replied. "But this is better than nothing. Thank you."

Since the day was over, we didn't find many people. We returned home and came to school earlier the next morning. The seven of us wandered around the school, asking everyone we could about it and looking for clues. We did the same during the break and after school. We repeated this process for almost a week, with no luck. Even Asuka-sensei had found nothing.

Then Hisaki sent a message to the chat group. Asuka-sensei had just called him to come to school today after club activities. Even though I knew Hisaki was innocent, I couldn't help but feel nervous while waiting for the day to be over.

Finally, we all gathered outside the principal's office. The discussion had just begun.

"Once again, I apologize for temporarily expelling you, but it was a decision I needed to make," Asuka-sensei said. "Mrs. Uchida, I apologize for using your time. I promise the week your son was expelled will be reimbursed to you."

Mrs. Uchida? Tomoki-san's mom is here?

"I appreciate that," Mrs. Uchida replied. "I understand you're doing this because it is the best for them as students, but I'd like to know what happened."

"Tomoki-san didn't tell you?"

"He didn't."

"Last week, Tomoki-san saw a knife inside Hisaki-san's locker as he was passing by. As you know, we recently installed cameras all around the schools to avoid situations like this, so I was able to corroborate that it did happen."

"Why was he expelled, then?"

"Although I was able to verify that, I was unable to find the exact moment when the knife was placed inside the locker. And with no more information, my only option was to expel both of them as I searched to find the answer for the students' safety. I'm sorry."

"I already said I understand that," Mrs. Uchida said. "I guess you called me here because you found the answer. But why aren't his parents here?"

"His guardians couldn't come," Asuka-sensei answered. "And it wasn't necessary."

"What do you mean?"

"Mrs. Uchida, it's almost certain that Tomoki-san put the knife inside Hisaki's locker."

"What?!" both Mrs. Uchida and Tomoki-san yelled.

"Of course I didn't!" Tomoki-san continued. "There's no reason for me—"

"Stop, Tomoki," Mrs. Uchida said. "Mrs. Asuka, if you're saying this, it means you have proof."

"That's right," Asuka-sensei replied. "It was going to take more time to find the moment the knife was placed inside the locker. Fortunately, a student came to my office and told me the exact date and time it happened. Here's the video."

After a few seconds of silence, Mrs. Uchida said, "But that's a girl putting the knife inside, not Tomoki."

"That's why I called that girl to my office. She was extremely scared but, after a few tries, she confessed that Tomoki-san threatened to ruin her reputation if she didn't do what he said."

"She's lying!" Tomoki-san shouted.

"Tomoki!" Mrs. Uchida scolded. "Mrs. Asuka, do you think my son did it?"

"I know there's no decisive proof, but I believe so. And, since there's no proof against Hisaki-san, it's the best decision I can make. I wish I could be one-hundred percent certain, but—"

Why did she stop?

"Do you want to say something?" Mrs. Uchida asked.

"Yes," a kid replied.

Who's that? Tomoki-san's little brother?

Tomoki-san gently said, "Eiji, there's no need to say anything—"

"I want to!" Eiji yelled. "Big Brother made me steal one of Dad's cigarettes!"

"What?!" Mrs. Uchida yelled.

Wait. It can't be…

Tomoki-san said, "Eiji, you shouldn't lie like that—"

"Tomoki! Don't you dare say a word more," Mrs. Uchida threatened. "Sweetie, when did that happen?"

"Two years ago. He was going to tell you that I broke your favorite glass if I didn't do it. Sorry…"

It was you…

"Oh, Sweetie. That's completely fine; you should've told me. But let's talk about it later. Tomoki, you're in serious trouble."

"But I wasn't the one—"

Suddenly, Narumi opened the door and stepped inside.

"Narumi-san?" Asuka-sensei asked. "You can't enter like that—"

"You did it, didn't you?" Narumi questioned Tomoki-san, ignoring Asuka-sensei. "You put the cigarette inside Daisuke's backpack."

After a moment of silence, Tomoki-san started laughing.

"Everyone is against me, huh? You know what? Yes, I was the one that put the cigarette in his backpack! I've been trying to make you notice me since the first day of high school, only for that idiot of Daisuke to catch your attention without doing anything. And now Hisaki? A dumbass with self-esteem issues and no personality—"

Narumi raised her arm and slapped him.

"Narumi-san!" Asuka-sensei yelled.

"It's fine," Mrs. Uchida said. "He deserves it."

"He might have his issues," Narumi continued, "but at least he had the balls to face me."

"Language," Asuka-sensei scolded.

"I'm sorry for intruding like this, I'll leave now."

With her fist clenched, Narumi walked out of the office and closed the door. I put my hand on her shoulder and said,

"Thank you."

Mrs. Uchida said, "Is this what you wanted independence for? To be able to do these things without your father and I knowing? To use people to your advantage?"

Tomoki-san didn't reply.

"Well, you're going to live with us again. Mrs. Asuka, I'd like for Tomoki to stop studying here."

"What? Why?!" Tomoki-san yelled. "There's only two months of school remaining—"

"I don't care! You're too dangerous to be kept around a school. You're going to go to therapy and take classes at home before you can enroll in a school again."

Tomoki-san didn't say anything.

"Mrs. Uchida, I admire your initiative to make Tomoki-san a better person," Asuka-sensei said. "But I think he still can study here—"

"I've made my decision, Mrs. Asuka."

Asuka-sensei stayed silent for a moment before replying, "Very well. I'll call you when the process is finished."

"Thank you. Tomoki, go for your stuff. Now."

That was our cue to run away, but we were all shocked by what had just happened that we didn't even try to move. Mrs. Uchida and Eiji glanced at us as they stepped out, but ignored us. Tomoki-san stared at the floor as they walked away.

We thought it was over, but no.

"All of you, come in," Asuka-sensei asked the seven of us.

Scared, we entered the office.

"I understand why you did it, but you shouldn't be spying," she scolded. "I'll let it go this time, but don't do it again.

We all apologized.

"Hisaki-san, I'm sorry for the inconvenience. Be sure that we'll reimburse the lost week to your guardians."

"Thank you," Hisaki smiled.

Asuka-sensei smirked back. "You can all leave."

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