I left the gymnasium with Red sitting inside my backpack. The halls were a bit crowded with everyone dispersing at once. As I looked around, I noticed Ryo trying to chat up two girls.
"If I were to really try, I could probably bench a max of 400 pounds. I may very well be the strongest vice president this school's ever had."
The two girls flashed each other doubtful looks.
"Wait a second, aren't you that guy from the gym that just flexes in front of the mirror the entire time?" The one said.
"Uh..." Ryo said, nervously.
"Yeah I think you're right, he is that guy." The other said.
"Ha... You two must have me confused with someone else... Anyways... How bout we exchange numbers and hang out sometime."
"Aw shoot... You know what, I don't remember my phone number and I forgot my phone today."
"Me too... What a coincidence."
"That's alright. You two can find me in the student council room after school. We can exchange info another time." Ryo said, optimistically.
"Yeah... We'll.... Be sure to do that."
The two girls went on their way. Something told me they weren't ever going to come see Ryo after school.
"Yo, Ryo." I said as I approached him."
"There's the man of the hour! You did it bro. You actually did it. How does it feel to be the student council president now?"
"It feels great to have accomplished my goal. If anything though, I think you might be more excited than I am." I teased.
"Dude, I still don't know what the student council vice president even does, but it already seems pretty awesome."
I couldn't help but smile.
"Thanks again for everything, Ryo. You were with me from the start until the very end. You're a good friend!"
"Ha, you don't need to tell me that again bro. I heard your speech earlier. Even if you lost, it still wouldn't have changed the fact that you're a total alpha Chad."
"That means a lot, man!"
"No problem! With us in charge now, we're going to get all the chicks."
Ryo obnoxiously patted my back.
"Oh, before I forget... I'm looking for Akari, have you seen her around?" I said.
"Actually, just before you came here she said something about going to the roof... Wait a second!...That look on your face... Are you going to shoot your shot bro!?"
Ryo was surprisingly more perceptive with these kinds of things than I thought.
"Well... I'd be lying if I said that wasn't the case."
He grabbed me by the shoulders and shook me.
"Broooooooooooo! I'm behind you one hundred percent. You just won an election against all odds. Confessing to a girl should be a walk in the park."
"Thanks for the encouragement!"
"Alright, enough talking to me, man. Go to her!"
I gave Ryo a solute as I departed.
I began speed walking through the hallway. At the moment, I had all the confidence in the world to make this confession. There was nothing that could stop me no-...
Mei suddenly approached me.
"Um... Can I talk with you for a minute, Kuro-kun?" She said, as she tugged at my sleeve.
"Well I was actually in the middle of some-."
I paused as she stared at me with a particular adamant look in her eyes. It seemed like she was really serious about whatever she wanted to tell me.
Red, who was still in my bag, spoke into my ear.
"Just ignore her. We have better things to do than deal with the orange hair girl's drama."
As much as he was right, I got a gut feeling that I needed to at least hear her out.
"What is it you wanted to talk about Mei?"
She took a deep breath before she spoke.
"Listen Kuro-kun, I've been thinking a lot about what you said the other day... and you were right. I know it's a bit besides the point now that the election is over, but I'm sorry for everything."
"I don't really understand, Mei. Why did you go along with all the slander against me in the first place? I mean the two of us have known each other our entire lives. You knew all those things weren't true." I responded.
"Well... The truth is I sort of got blinded by jealousy. I thought if you were completely isolated from everyone in the school, you would come crawling to me and I would have you all to myself just like when we were kids."
"To be honest with you, that sounds insane."
"Yeah, hearing myself say it out loud does make me sound a little crazy... I know you already rejected me, but that doesn't change my feelings about you. I don't expect you to reciprocate, all I ask is that things can go back to how they used to be. I really miss walking to school with you every morning."
"I forgive you, Mei. I’d be happy if things went back to how they used to also. I mean we're neighbors, so it would be kind of a pain if we had to keep avoiding each other."
"Thank you so much, Kuro-kun. I truly am grateful!"
The two of us smile at each-...
"Enough of this sappy stuff. Everyone knows this chick isn't the winner of this romcom. You have a more important female to talk to." Red butted in.
"Alright, I have to get going." I said.
"Where are you rushing to anyways?" Mei asked.
"I have to go see Akari about something important."
"Oh... I get what's going on... I can't say I'm necessarily happy, but I hope everything works out for you, Kuro.
"Thanks, Mei. I'll see you tomorrow morning on our way to school."
I waived back to her as I continued down the hall.
"Alright no more interruptions you need to get to the roo-..."
Red unfortunately spoke too soon. We barely made it ten feet until we were stopped again.
"Where are you rushing off to Hako-san?...I'm just asking because I'm curious. It's not because I like you or anything." Sakai said.
"I'm actually on my way to the roof to see Akari."
"The roof?... Oh... She's that redheaded girl, right?...I think I understand... Just so you know I'm not jealous or anything. I feel bad that she has to deal with a dummy like you."
She said one thing, but from the look on her face I could tell she meant the opp-...
"Blah blah blah. Yeah we all get it, Kuro. We all know the tsundere girl has the hots for you. She's not best girl in this story though, so speed it up!" Red urged me.
I partially ignored him.
"Before I forget. I wanted to thank you, Sakai. Your help was a bit unexpected, but if it wasn't for you, there's no way I could have won."
"There's no need to thank me. I feel like that was my way of atoning for what you were put through."
Talking to her made me remember there was still something I hadn't decided yet.
"There's actually something I've been meaning to ask you..."
Her cheeks suddenly got a bit red, as she spoke nervously.
"W-woah, wait a second... I don't think I'm really the type of girl to be a side chick... but maybe I'd-..."
"Uh... I was just going to ask if you wanted to keep your position as the student council's treasurer?"
"Oh... Yeah... That's what I...um... thought you were talking about."
She let out a fake laugh to hide her embarrassment.
"Would you really want someone who's bad at math to be your treasurer?" She asked.
"I don't mind. I mean I already helped you all last year. I'm pretty used to it by now."
I gave her a reassuring smile.
"I'd be fine with that, but I have one condition." She said.
"Can we start calling each other by our first names? It seems like you're on a first name basis with everyone in your friend group except me."
I never realized it before, but it was true. The two of us have always referred to each other on a formal basis.
"It's a deal. I guess that means I'll see you tomorrow after school then...Rin-chan."
"Ha, I guess so...Kuro-kun."
I bid her farewell as I continued with my mission.
After finally making our way through the hall, Red and I finally reached the bottom of the staircase.
"Your objective is just up there, Kuro. There’s absolutely nothing that can stop y-."
As I should have expected, we had another interruption... And of course it had to be Sato.
"Aren't you in quite the rush, Hako-san. You know, you shouldn't be running through the halls...even if you are the student council president now."
"Just get this over with. I hope you know you managed to ruin the scene I had envisioned with all these interruptions."
I turned to face Sato.
"You seem like you cooled down from your little outburst earlier, Miss Former President." I said.
"Yes well, I just got done getting a stern talking to by the principal and I also received a month suspension for my actions starting tomorrow. I'll admit losing my temper wasn't exactly the best look, but let's not pretend you didn't play dirty either."
"And how exactly did I play dirty?"
"You really are a silly boy, Hako-san. Both you and I know very well that video was definitely a deep fake."
I couldn't believe that still after losing, she was still trying to push this deep fake conspiracy.
"It was real and you know it." I said.
"Yeah, sure it was... Anyways I just hope you're aware that just because you won this election, the game is far from over. I'm very aware you're about to go confess to Tachi-san. For now you two can have your moment, but I'm not going to let her beat me again so easily. I can assure you that one day you'll fall for me and I'll take you from her."
Once again she showed how truly psychotic she was. I'm going to have to make sure I keep an eye on her going forward.
"You're insane, I hope you know that."
"Who knows maybe, I am... I'll see you around, Hako-san."
As she left, she wore her usual arrogant grin.
Red suddenly spoke up,
"I guess this is the time I should probably tell you something..."
"What's that?" I said, suspiciously
"Well... about that video on the flash drive... She actually was right, it was a deep fake. I made it using your computer."
"Wait, What!? Are you kidding me." I said, a bit irritated.
"No, not at all. Desperate times call for desperate measures. Don't get all high and mighty now that you've been elected. Just remember you're no more of a saint than that brown hair girl. You did enlist the help of a devil afterall."
This meant that my win could be attributed to his fake video. That also meant that Sato was actually right. Now that everything was over though, this would just have to be something I swept under the rug.
"I guess it's past the point now, but I don't really feel great knowing that."
"You'll get over it. Now let's get to the roof. You have a confession to make!" Red said, getting impatient again.
I climbed the staircase until I made it to the door at the very top. As I grabbed the knob, I took a deep breath and began to twist. I was ready to finally confront Akari about my feelings...