Chapter 23:

Getting Caught in the Rain with Sakai

Pandora's Box

After school the next day, I picked up a copy of the school paper. Right on the front page was the retraction I requested. It essentially stated that the previous article about me was a baseless rumor and that they formally apologized for any harm it did to me.

There was also a brand new poll that had been published that had me at 25% and Sato at 75%. I was still a long way off from being able to beat her.

As I did my usual after school campaign activities, I tried to gage if the retraction was resonating. To be perfectly honest, it didn't really seem like anyone noticed nor cared. Everybody's attitudes toward me seemed about the same. Alot of girls still gave me dirty looks as I walked down the hall.

It's funny, when a spicy headline drops everybody jumps right on it, but when something less interesting like a retraction to that headline is made, it just goes over everyone's head. I at least had the published article. During the debate on Friday, I would have to make sure to point it out to everyone.

I spent my last few hours finishing up my afternoon tasks then decided to call it a day.

As I was putting my shoes on, I noticed it was getting cloudy...again.

"Shoot!" I said to myself.

I quickly tied my shoes and started towards the door. Rainy days have been fairly bad luck for me these past couple weeks.

If Red were here, he'd be babbling about his umbrella plan again, but it's been days since he's spoken to me since our fight.

It's not that I haven't seen him though. He follows me around and observes me from a distance. He just refuses to acknowledge my existence. It's especially awkward at home because he still stays in my room and hogs my computer all night long.

I swiftly tried to make it off the school grounds as quickly as possible, hopefully avoiding another uncomfortable encounter. I managed to make it to the gate when...

*Splish* *Splish* *Splash*

"Just so you know, I'm not sharing this umbrella with you because I like you or anything... It's just that I forgot mine."

Shikaku High School's resident tsundere, Sakai Rin, managed to make her way under my umbrella.

"You know, when you say things like that, it almost seems like you actually mean the opposite." I signed.

Her cheeks got a little red.

"A-are you trying to call me a tsundere again?... Because I'm not! You just watch too many of those stupid romcom animes."

"Yes, that's exactly what I'm calling you."

She shook her head.

"Just because I'm a little cold sometimes doesn't mean anything, you idiot. That's just how I am."

She pretty much just defined a tsundere.

"Did you just come here to argue about anime tropes or was there something you wanted other than using me for my umbrella?"

I was getting fed up with these student council girls. All I wanted was to just be left alone, but apparently that was too much to ask.

Sakai suddenly got quiet and looked in the other direction.

"Well... actually there is something I've been meaning to get off my chest."

She turned back towards me and made direct eye contact with me. She had a serious look on her face. I decided I would hear her out.

The rain started to come down harder. I found a bench that was decently covered by an overhang. The two of us sat side by side.

"So what did you want to discuss?" I asked

Her hair was fairly wet, so she undid her braid and let it down. She took a deep breath before speaking.

"The thing is... I've been having this guilt eating at me."

"Guilt about what?"

"What do you think?... Everything Shiina's done to you. You were nothing, but kind and helpful to all of us and in return we took you for granted and spread horrible rumors about you. I could have objected, but I just went along with it like a coward."

She started to tear up as she continued.

"I don't expect you to ever forgive me, but I just wanted you to know that I am truly sorry."

At first I thought maybe this was one of Sato's tricks, but Sakai's never been the type of girl who cries easily.

"I always wondered why you joined the student council in the first place. It always seemed like it was an inconvenience to you." I said.

"I know it's kind of silly that someone who's bad at math was appointed treasurer, but when Shiina asked me to join the student, I thought maybe I could use the opportunity to step out of my comfort zone, since all I've ever done was tennis my whole life. Then I met you and saw how dedicated and hardworking you were. I always sort of... admired you."

Despite her being the one apologizing, I kind of felt like a jerk myself.

"I'm sorry too."

She looked at me confused.

"Why are you apologizing?"

"When I resigned, I said some things about you I probably shouldn't have. I realize now that unlike Sato and Mei, you weren't trying to take advantage of me, you were just asking for my help."

"No, it's fine. That's nothing compared to what you were put through. I was complicit the entire time and never spoke up. The least I can do is try and help you anyway I can."

I smiled.

"Ha, looks like you're a turncoat."

"I guess I am…”

She wiped her tears and laughed as she smiled back.

"I already know how I can help you too... As you probably know I'm pretty popular in the athletics department. I think I can convince a pretty significant amount of people to swing for you in the election."

"That would help me significantly. I'm actually really desperate to close the gap in the polls."

"Oh, and one more thing, Shiina's planning on bringing up the water park incident from over the summer at Friday's debate."

I paused for a moment as my stomach sank.

"...Shoot! I can't believe she would actually go that far."

"I know. She really is willing to do anything to win."

At that moment I realized that I was going to need whatever that dirt was that Red had on Sato. Which meant I was going to have to make up with him.

The rain started subsiding.

"Hey Sakai-san... Thank you. You may have just drastically influenced this election's outcome."

Sakai got quiet all of a sudden as her cheeks got a little red.

"Hey... Um... before I head home. There's something I've been wondering."

"What's that?"

"So... are you dating that red haired girl from the tennis match?"

"Oh, Akari. She's just helping me with my campaign and in exchange I'm pretending to be her boyfriend, so guys will stop confessing to her at school."

She shook her head.

"I swear, could you be any more dense?" She whispered.

"What do you mean?" I said.

Suddenly she hugged me.

"You dummy." She muttered.

She didn't say another word after that. All she did was turn around and run off, looking a little embarrassed.

"Typical tsundere like usual." I said to myself.

The rain completely stopped and the sun came out. I started making my way home to hopefully get my little devil sidekick back.