📢 Maybe you see "V2" or "V3" and so on in the NOVEL TITLE, it means what VOLUMES the NOVEL is.
📢 Maybe you see "V2" or "V3" and so on in the NOVEL TITLE, it means what VOLUMES the NOVEL is.

I’m the Only One Who Knows the Secret of the Perfect Neat and Tidy Committee Chairperson Who Lives Under One Roof Chapter 7

From the Depths of a Faint Memory

KO-FIDISCORD

Scene 7: From the Depths of a Faint Memory

The next day, during lunch break, I couldn’t hold back a big yawn. After what had happened last night, I hadn’t been able to sleep at all.

While I was struggling with sleepiness and resting my head on the desk, Kasumino Matsuri playfully tapped my head from above.

“Hey, Ta-kun, are you okay? You look half-dead again today.”

“I couldn’t sleep last night…”

“Oh? Really? Was it because of some ‘I won’t let you sleep’ kind of reason?”

“No way…”

As I replied wearily, Kasumino shrugged and muttered.

“Then it must be the usual – playing games too much. That’s not good, you know, even if you’re young.”

“From which position are you saying that, my classmate girl?”

While we engaged in our usual pointless banter, I yawned again and glanced at her from the corner of my eye.

For now, it seemed she had no intention of probing into the matter about Chika and me. Her demeanor was as usual, which brought me some relief, yet I couldn’t stop thinking about what she had almost said yesterday, “Hey, Ta-kun─”

Kasumino Matsuri had something important to say with a serious face. What was that about?

“Hey, Kasumino Matsuri.”

“Hm? What’s up? Forgot about the math assignment for the afternoon?”

“No, it’s not that.”

I was about to bring up last night’s incident but then decided against it. Somehow, it felt like it wasn’t something I should be asking.

“…Never mind. It’s nothing.”

“? Okay, I was worried you’d ask me to show my assignment. I haven’t done it either.”

“Hey.”

Just like that, we continued our usual conversation as if nothing had happened. Then, Narumiya entered the classroom with a triumphant look, holding two of the famous bread rolls from the school store.

“Did you win the struggle to get those today?”

“Yeah, a complete victory…though it’s weird they were unsold.”

He said, unwrapping the bread and taking a big bite, only to grimace immediately.

“What was the filling today?”

“…I don’t know. It started with a Japanese dashi flavor, then suddenly it felt like an Indian person jumped out from the right…”

“It says ‘Spicy Curry Oden’… They really went bold today,” Kasumino commented, looking at the label on the wrapper. Narumiya groaned but bravely continued eating the bread, finishing both.

After downing them with some milk, he turned to me, “Hey, Ta-letter. Are you free tonight?”

“Don’t just swerve into a conversation like that.”

“What’s wrong with that? If I don’t talk, the taste of curry and oden will resurface… Anyway, are you free?”

He asked abruptly, and I replied with slight bewilderment, “Are you planning to go out?”

“Actually, there’s talk among our classmates about going for a test of courage. I really want you to come too.”

Narumiya’s eyes sparkled as he said this, making it hard for me to refuse his invitation.

“Is Kasumino Matsuri coming too?”

Narumiya then turned to Kasumino, who was listening to our conversation, and she quickly agreed with a smile, “It sounds fun to do something like that once in a while.”

Sandwiched between them, I glanced at Chika sitting in the front. She was engaged in a conversation with other students, seemingly unconcerned about us.

I was curious about her behavior since yesterday and wanted to clarify things. But it didn’t seem like something that needed immediate attention.

I had been busy with Chika’s intensive training recently and hadn’t had much time to hang out with these two. Thinking about it, I felt it might be nice to join them today.

“Alright, I’ll come along.”

“That’s the spirit. Haha, if something comes out, give it a ‘Ha!’ for me.”

“I’m not from a temple, so that’s impossible.”

While saying this, I sent a message to Chika on my phone.

“I’m going to a test of courage with Narumiya and the others tonight.”

Almost immediately, I got a read receipt, followed by a brief reply a few seconds later.

“Understood.”

Her response was very business-like. But without dwelling on it, I turned back to the two.

“So, where’s this test of courage happening? Is there a suitable place around here?”

“It’s actually very close.”

“Close? You don’t mean the old school building, do you?”

Our school had an old wooden building that hadn’t been used for nearly ten years. It should have been demolished long ago, but due to slow progress in construction plans, it was still standing.

“They say a ghost haunts there.”

“A ghost? What kind?”

“Supposedly it’s the spirit of a student who died unjustly due to bullying a long time ago. Not sure if it’s a girl or a boy. That’s why the demolition hasn’t progressed.”

The information was vague.

“There’s hardly any substance to this story.”

“Well, that’s how rumors usually are,” he laughed lightly.

“It’s not really about whether a ghost appears or not. It’s about enjoying the atmosphere.”

“Maybe that’s true.”

“And you know, Kasumino Matsuri has invited some girls too. Being with girls during a test of courage… feels like something might happen, right? Like a suspension bridge effect.”

“That so…?”

While harboring some doubts, I decided not to pry further and asked with a slight shrug.

“So, are we meeting up at the spot? Is there anything specific we should bring?”

“Yeah, let’s meet in front of the old school building around five in the evening. Everyone should bring their own flashlight, I can’t lend you one if you forget.”

“Got it.”

After responding, Narumiya grabbed his bag and left the classroom ahead of me.

“See you later then.”

“Yeah, see ya.”

I waved back at him, packed my things into my bag, and left the classroom as well.

I had been spending a lot of time with Chika lately, so I thought a change of pace like this might be good. At that time, I was still thinking lightly of the situation.

◆◆◇◇◆◆◇◇

After returning home for a bit and taking a break, I left the house again in my uniform when it was about time.

My parents seemed to be late today as well, so I left a note for them. Chika, probably busy with student council work, hadn’t returned home yet. I hesitated but decided not to wait and headed out.

I had already informed her via message, so there shouldn’t be any problems.

It took about twenty minutes to walk from my home back to the school.

While passing students who were heading home, I made my way towards the old school building, quietly standing behind the new building.

Looking at it again, the building seemed dangerously dilapidated, like it might collapse at any moment.

As I approached the entrance, I noticed about ten familiar faces had already gathered, including Kasumino Matsuri.

One of them, Narumiya, spotted me and called out, “Hey, over here… Alright, looks like everyone’s here.”

After saying that, he glanced at the prohibited entrance of the old building and then around at everyone.

“Let’s go over the details of the test of courage. As everyone knows, the old school building has been closed for a long time and is now occasionally used as a storage… It seems like we’re not the only ones who’ve thought about using it for a test of courage. The entrance, as you can see, is wide open.”

Indeed, as he said, the entrance, originally sealed with wooden boards, had been pried open by someone, and despite the sign, it was accessible to anyone.

We might get in trouble if caught, but it seemed like no one was managing the place anymore, and everyone was turning a blind eye.

“According to a rumor I heard from a senior, the classroom of 3-4 is where the ‘ghost’ appears. So that’s where we’ll head for our test of courage.”

“Going up to the third floor, huh? But how do we prove we’ve been there?”

When one of the classmates asked, Narumiya nodded and showed his phone.

“Once you reach the classroom, take a photo of the nameplate with your phone and send it to the group chat. That’s how we’ll know you made it. Oh, I’ll create the group now, so make sure to join.”

After joining the newly formed group chat, Narumiya continued explaining the rules.

“So, since we have an equal number of boys and girls, let’s pair up one boy and one girl. The pairs will be decided by drawing lots.”

As he said this, he took out some chopstick lots from his backpack. The ends were colored, indicating the pairs.

“The order for drawing will be according to class numbers.”

As the classmates began drawing lots, I realized I would be the last one due to the roll call order.

“Ta-letter, this one’s for you.”

He handed me a chopstick with a red mark on the tip. I wondered who I would be paired with and looked around, noticing Kasumino Matsuri holding a chopstick with the same red mark.

“Looks like I’m paired with you, Kasumino Matsuri.”

When I spoke to her, she looked surprised for a moment, then glanced at Narumiya, who returned a meaningful smile.

“Okay then. Please don’t cling to me if you get scared,” she said, her face reddening a bit.

“I’m good with this kind of stuff, no worries,” I replied, and she shrugged, her usual cheerful self returning.

With the pairs decided, Narumiya announced, “Let’s get started. The first pair will be Ta-letter and Kasumino Matsuri.”

We nodded to each other, checked our flashlights, and stepped into the dark entrance of the old school building.

◆◆◇◇◆◆◇◇

It was already getting dark, and the inside was pitch black.

While illuminating the way with the flashlight, I looked around the entrance and confirmed our direction.

Beside me, Kasumino Matsuri looked around curiously.

“Wow, I’ve only ever seen the outside. It’s in worse shape than I thought.”

Indeed, the interior was in terrible condition. It had obviously been entered many times for similar tests of courage. There were spray-painted graffiti, and trash like instant noodle cups were scattered around.

The wooden corridors had holes in places, and parts were wet, probably from yesterday’s heavy rain. It seemed wise to be careful where we stepped.

“Be careful not to trip,” I cautioned.

“If I do, you’ll catch me, right?” Kasumino Matsuri joked back. Chika would have been terrified by now, but Kasumino seemed unfazed.

After a brief conversation, we shone our flashlight down the corridor extending from the shoe boxes.

“Shall we start from the right side? According to the layout of the new building, class 3-4 should be on this side.”

“Sounds good.”

As we started walking, I suddenly sensed something moving in the dark.

“What was that?”

Kasumino Matsuri seemed to have noticed it too. With a sharp voice, she suddenly grabbed my hand that was free. We were holding hands now.

“What’s that!?” I thought, but the immediate concern was right in front of us.

The rustling movement turned out to be something small. Cautiously shining the flashlight, we saw…

“Squeak!”

It was a mouse that scurried away.

Once we realized what it was, both Kasumino Matsuri and I let out a big sigh, and then she burst into laughter.

“Ahaha, we got scared by a mouse!”

“You were pretty scared too.”

“Uh, well, I can’t deny that,” she admitted with an embarrassed lick of her lips. I chuckled and tried to casually let go of the hand we were still holding.

Tried to let go, but Kasumino Matsuri held on tightly.

“Kasumino Matsuri?”

“Well, you know, it’s so dark, we might get separated easily. Right? Ahaha…”

Accepting her reasoning, I nodded and we continued walking, still hand in hand.

Her hand in mine—slightly smaller and thinner than Chika’s. I couldn’t help but be keenly aware of it.

Despite our usual banter like we were just guy friends… I realized that she was a girl.

“…”

“…”

Lost in thought, I became overly conscious of the situation and couldn’t find the words to start a conversation.

As we both remained silent, our footsteps echoed in the dark corridors of the old school building. When we reached the second floor, it was Kasumino Matsuri who broke the silence.

“How’s your scaredy-cat friend doing lately?”

“Huh? Oh…”

Caught off guard by the sudden change of topic, I shrugged.

“It’s going okay. She’s gotten a bit better compared to when we first started the special training.”

“That must be tough, especially with someone who looks like a strong judo club member. It would be a big deal if others found out.”

Right, that was the story. Although Chika was nothing like that, the part about keeping it a secret was the same.

“Yeah. That’s why I need to help her properly overcome it.”

“Ahaha, I told you before, you’re really reliable and kind, Ta-kun.”

Kasumino Matsuri said with a smile that was softer than usual, which made my heart skip a beat.

“It’s not about being kind. She’s my friend, and I can’t just ignore her.”

“No, that’s not true. You even helped me, remember?”

“Huh?”

When I asked, Kasumino Matsuri continued, “Don’t you remember? In our first year, when I was surrounded by club recruiters, you pulled me away.”

“Oh, that…”

I did remember. It was just after the entrance ceremony. Her outstanding athletic ability had been well-known even in middle school, and she was surrounded by a horde of sports club recruiters.

Kasumino Matsuri was much more timid back then, unable to say no to anyone… and was about to be coerced into signing up for every club.

I happened to see this and, on a whim, intervened.

“That time was surprising. You suddenly stepped in and said, ‘Please don’t take our club member,’ even to the seniors.”

“Looking back, that’s really surprising.”

I laughed at the memory. It was like something out of a romantic comedy.

“But thanks to you, I was saved. If you hadn’t stepped in, I might have become a very different person. In a bad way.”

“Well, then I guess I should be proud of my past self.”

“Do that.”

After laughing softly, a brief silence fell again. Then she hesitantly continued.

“Ta-kun, can I ask you for advice?”

“Hm?”

“I wanted to talk during lunch, but there wasn’t enough time.”

That’s right, she did seem like she was about to say something then.

“I’ll listen to anything. What’s up?”

“It’s a bit serious, but is that okay?”

“It’s rare for you to bring up something serious.”

“I have a lot on my mind too.”

She pouted slightly, then stopped in the middle of the corridor, still holding my hand, and looked into my eyes.

“Ta-kun, you said you don’t have a girlfriend, right?”

“Uh, yeah.”

“Do you want one?”

“Eh?”

Caught off guard by the direct question, I reflexively nodded.

“Well, yeah, I guess. I mean, I’d like to have one, but…”

As I replied with a generic answer, Kasumino Matsuri gripped my hand tightly and murmured.

“Then, how about me?”

“……………What?”

Suddenly, so very suddenly, all I could do was utter a dumbfounded response and look back at Kasumino Matsuri.

Her expression was unusually serious. Her eyes were slightly teary from tension, and her cheeks flushed.

It wasn’t the face of someone joking around.

Before I could say anything, she continued.

“I like you, Ta-kun. I think I’d be okay with being your girlfriend.”

“Are you serious?”

“Totally serious. Otherwise, it would be too embarrassing to say.”

She replied with a shy smile and stepped closer to me.

“I never intended to say this. I was happy just chatting with you and Narumiya in the classroom, occasionally hanging out like this. More than anything, I didn’t want to ruin what we had.”

“I feel the same. It’s easy talking with you, and I feel relaxed.”

She nodded at my words, then her expression turned somber as she whispered.

“But… things have changed. I saw you with Kurokawa at the amusement park.”

“But that’s because…”

“Kurokawa is staying at your place, right? I know… but still. Can it really just be that?”

Kasumino Matsuri looked at me anxiously.

“Ta-kun, you’ve known Kurokawa since you were kids. She’s nice, beautiful, smart… Living with someone like that, you’d definitely fall for her.”

“That’s—”

I started to reply, but my thoughts were interrupted by memories of the past week.

The way Chika talked, her various expressions – not just as a “princess” but sometimes crying, sometimes proud like a child. She hadn’t changed from the Chika I knew.

And so, I…

As I hesitated, Kasumino Matsuri gave a small, wry smile.

“Do you like Kurokawa, Ta-kun?”

It was a question without room for evasion, one I couldn’t sidestep.

“…I—”

Just as I was about to answer…

“───GUAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH!!!”

A scream, like a roar or a cry from hell, erupted, drowning out my response.

Kasumino Matsuri instantly looked terrified and scanned the area.

“What… what is that!?”

“AHHHHHHHHHHH!!!”

Amidst the beastly or demonic howling, Kasumino Matsuri couldn’t take it anymore.

“No, no, nooo!!”

“Kasumino Matsuri!?”

In a panic, she let go of my hand and ran off down the corridor. I tried to follow, but she was too fast, and I quickly lost sight of her.

Picking up the flashlight she dropped, I hesitated for a moment, then decided to investigate the source of the scream.

Kasumino Matsuri was probably headed towards the exit, where everyone else was. But I had a hunch about the scream.

Illuminating the way with the flashlight, I headed towards the classroom where the sound came from.

The door of the 2-1 classroom was wide open, and as I stepped inside…

“NOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!”

A familiar, gruff scream sounded.

It was Chika.

Illuminating the classroom, I saw her huddled in a corner. Her silver hair was a giveaway.

With a confused expression, I asked her, “What are you doing in a place like this?”

“Huuu… Ta-kun?”

She looked at me, her face a mix of disbelief and tears, showing a pitiful expression she wouldn’t show anyone else.

“Can you stand?”

“Don’t be silly… Of course, I can…”

She struggled to her feet, shaking like a newborn fawn. Looking closer, there were several bundles of documents scattered around her.

“What were you doing here?”

She looked away guiltily and said,

“I was asked to organize old student council documents… and I brought them here.”

“Why did you even accept? Why didn’t you refuse?”

Without thinking, I blurted out those words, and Chika pouted her lips in displeasure before sighing.

“…There’s no way that would work. Nobody but Takkun knows I’m a scaredy-cat… and it would be troublesome if refusing weirdly made them suspicious.”

“Well, that might be true… but I thought you could come up with a clever way to decline,” I replied.

To my response, Chika looked troubled, casting her eyes downward and murmuring in a voice as faint as a mosquito’s buzz.

“…I was worried. I heard from someone in class that during the test of courage in the old school building, Kasumino-san was going to confess to Takkun.”

“…Eh?”

I let out a dumbfounded voice, to which Chika, fiddling with her fingertips, continued quietly.

“Kasumino-san and Takkun getting together… Narumiya-kun planned this test of courage for that reason.”

“That guy…”

What a meddlesome act. As a friend, he’s too considerate. The choice of a test of courage is puzzling, though.

Pondering her words, I made a firm resolution to confront him later. Then, something she said made me pause.

“…Huh? But why would you be worried about that?”

“Because… umm…”

She hesitated for a moment, then continued with momentum.

“Because we promised when we were little. That we’d get married when we grow up…”

“…Eh?”

Confused by her unexpected words, Chika looked at me squarely, her cheeks flushing with embarrassment.

Her expression was childlike, something unimaginable from her usual “princess” demeanor.

As I stared at her face, on the verge of tears, I suddenly remembered.

“…The promise during the test of courage?”

“Takkun… you remember?”

“No, but seeing your snotty face made me suddenly remember.”

“!”

Chika hurriedly covered her face while I began to dig through my memories.

Right, that was over ten years ago.

The neighborhood kids and I decided to have a test of courage in the graveyard on our shrine’s grounds. Chika, who was afraid of everything, ended up joining because I was participating.

As expected, she got scared wandering alone in the graveyard and became lost. I went to find her, and it was on our way back.

“Takkun, thank you… Hehe, I really love you. When I grow up, I’ll become Takkun’s bride.”

“I live in a shrine… and you always get so scared when you come. We can’t get married.”

“We can!”

“We can’t.”

“We can! So, I’ll…”

“…’Cure my fearfulness by the time I’m twenty.'”

Remembering Chika’s words from the past, I murmured them. She, too, smiled nostalgically.

“‘Then, if I can do that, let’s get married.’ …You remembered, didn’t you?”

What she said next was my reply back then.

Yes, on that day, at that time… I made such a promise with her.

For me, ‘marriage’ was merely an idea of staying close and being good friends. I said it carelessly, forgetting about it soon after, but Chika…

“…Have you always remembered it?”

“Yes.”

“So, you’ve been trying to cure your fearfulness… for that promise?”

To my question, Chika silently nodded, her eyes downcast.

“…Back then, I was always dragged along by Takkun. So, I thought I should become cool like him. I studied hard, paid attention to my clothing, hairstyle, skincare… and became a princess everyone admires, to stand beside you. But…”

“The fearfulness just couldn’t be cured, huh?”

Chika nodded again. Her words made me start to understand many things.

“I’ll stop doing this kind of thing from now on…”

Chika said that yesterday. She’s always been a hardworking and serious girl. Probably, realizing that I didn’t remember our childhood promise, she decided to overcome her fearfulness without relying on me.

That explained her strangely aloof behavior… Realizing this, I let out a deep, deep sigh.

Seeing that, she protested with a disgruntled face.

“What’s with that, Takkun… You don’t have to sigh.”

“No, it’s not about you. If I have to say, it’s more about my own stupidity.”

I said with a bitter smile, and she tilted her head in confusion.

Really, it’s so absurd it leaves me speechless. Not even trying to understand what she was thinking, what she was going through… I just kept feeling the distance between us.

It wasn’t Chika who drifted away, but myself… Could there be a more absurd story?

“…Hey, Chika.”

“Yes?”

“I’m sorry for everything up to now.”

At my apology, Chika looked puzzled, tilting her head in confusion. Smiling at her, I extended my hand to her, still seated.

“Come on, let’s go. We can’t just sit here paralyzed forever.”

“I’m not paralyzed.”

“Okay, okay.”

Chika, puffing her cheeks but seemingly pleased, took my hand and stood up.

As I led her by the hand out of the classroom, we decided to head back the way we came. Checking the group chat, there was no sign that Kasumino had gone to the mentioned third-year classroom alone. She must have returned to everyone else first. It would be best for us to make a quick escape as well.

While walking and thinking this, Chika chuckled softly behind me.

“Hehe, doing this reminds me of that time.”

“…Yeah, it does.”

Nowadays, it feels like she’s surpassed me in many ways.

But still – right now, I’m leading her by the hand.

Just like back then, I should cast away any self-deprecating inferiority complex into the darkness. Like the old me, leading her hand… I should move forward confidently and proudly.

As we proceeded, the exit soon came into view.

“…I wonder if Kasumino-san is okay.”

“I think she probably went outside right away. She’s quick to make decisions like that.”

She seemed startled by Chika’s scream earlier, but knowing her, she would have quickly decided to head outside.

“I see… then, that’s reassuring.”

Talking like this, we left through the entrance – and outside, where it had started to get dark, everyone was waiting idly.

Among them, Narumiya was the first to notice us and raised an eyebrow in surprise.

“Takkun… and not the princess, but Kurokawa? Why is Kurokawa here?”

“Uh…”

I stumbled over my words in this awkward situation, but Chika stepped forward, answering in her clear, princess-like voice.

“I was here to organize the student council’s storage room and heard a scream. When I checked, I found him… and he said it was a test of courage. You all know that the old school building is off-limits, right?”

Her tone was not accusatory but gently admonishing, and everyone looked at each other sheepishly. Her popularity was undeniable.

I decided not to mention how she cleverly implied the scream was my fault.

“Hehe, when the discipline committee member Kurokawa says that, we can’t really argue.”

Narumiya said this with a somewhat pleased expression. I glanced at him half-closed eyes and looked around at everyone… then I realized something.

“Narumiya.”

“Hm?”

“Hasn’t Kasumino come back?”

Looking around the classmates gathered outside the school building, Kasumino was nowhere to be seen.

Narumiya nodded, looking a bit pressured by my question.

“Matsuri hasn’t shown up yet…”

Hearing his response, Chika and I exchanged glances.

Kasumino still hadn’t come out? I hurriedly sent her a message on my phone.

“Where are you right now?”

But… even after waiting a minute, she didn’t even read the message. As concern showed on my face—

“I’ll go find her!”

To my surprise, it was Chika who suddenly declared this.

“Ch… Kurokawa! Hey!”

“Everyone, you can disband for today! I’ll go look for Kasumino-san!”

Before I could stop her, she turned on her heel and dashed back towards the old school building.

The sky was completely dark now. Going alone into this eerie place at this time was reckless.

Despite these thoughts, I… turned to Narumiya and said,

“Sorry, Narumiya. Since the discipline committee member said so, can you call off the test of courage for today?”

“Sure, of course, but… what about Kasumino?”

“I’ll go look for her. If I find her, I’ll send a message later.”

Considering that Chika might end up in an embarrassing situation, I wanted Narumiya and the others to leave.

After a brief hesitation, Narumiya nodded.

“Alright, see you tomorrow then.”

“Yeah.”

With that, I also re-entered the old school building, following Chika.

◆◆◇◇◆◆◇◇

In the pitch-dark old school building, I immediately cursed under my breath.

“Chika… which way did she go?”

The entrance split into corridors extending both ways. The darkness made it impossible to tell which way she had gone.

But since she hadn’t been in long, I shouted at the top of my lungs.

“Chika! Where are you!?”

“Kyaa!”

The scream came from the left. No doubt, it was Chika’s scream, albeit more restrained than usual.

I hurried in that direction and soon saw the light from her flashlight.

“Chika!”

Calling out to her, she looked at me, her face pale.

“Ta-Takkun!? Why did you come!?”

“Why? Because Chika can’t search alone, in many ways.”

More than just the need for additional hands, the idea of the easily frightened Chika searching the old school building at night was just too unreasonable. However, at my words, Chika looked down and muttered,

“…But I think it’s my fault. My scream startled Kasumino-san… and that’s why this is happening. So, I have to take responsibility.”

Chika said this with a mix of fear and fortitude.

But I shook my head at her words and replied,

“If we’re talking about responsibility, it’s actually mine. I thought Kasumino-san would be fine and didn’t go to look for her… That’s why it’s come to this. So, it’s my fault.”

Truly, it was. If something happened to Kasumino-san because of this…

A sense of urgency began to seep in, and I clenched my fist tightly. Then Chika enveloped my hand with both of hers.

“Then, this is a responsibility for both of us. Let’s find Kasumino-san quickly and go home.”

It was the resolute voice of a “princess.”

No, not quite. Both of these aspects had always been part of her.

Chika, responsible, diligent, and a hard worker.

Chika, who gets scared easily, gets carried away, and has her absent-minded moments.

Both are the Chika I know.

“…Right. We need to find her quickly. She might have injured herself somewhere.”

Muttering to myself, I shook my head to clear my thoughts and turned back to Chika.

“But how should we search for her? This old building is quite large…”

“We should split up. It’ll be more efficient that way.”

“Split up…?”

I stared at Chika intently, but she seemed serious.

“Splitting up means you’ll have to move around alone. Are you sure you’re okay with that?”

At my point, Chika’s expression stiffened slightly, but after a few seconds of silence, she nodded firmly.

“I’m okay. We can’t afford to waste time now. Besides,”

Her deep blue eyes met mine directly.

“I’ve been toughened up by you, Takkun. I’m not scared.”

Suppressing the tremble in her voice, Chika replied with a smile.

“…Alright, understood. If anything happens, message me on your phone.”

“Okay.”

With that, Chika and I set off in opposite directions along the corridor.

Kasumino-san and I had gotten separated on the second floor. It’s unlikely she would have gone higher than that, so checking the first and second floors should suffice.

Thinking this, I suddenly felt a nasty sensation under my foot and hastily sat down to avoid falling.

The floorboard I had just stepped on had given way, leaving a hole.

“This place really should be demolished…”

It made sense why it was off-limits. Standing up, I carefully walked and shouted out loud.

“Kasumino-san! Hey, Kasumino-san! If you’re there, respond!”

In the darkness, illuminated only by a few steps ahead by the flashlight, there was no reply.

Instead—

“Kyaaahhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!”

and,

“No, no, no, noooooooooooo!!!”

Such ugly screams echoed from afar occasionally.

Hearing that, I sent a message to Chika.

“Are you okay?”

“Perfectly fine.”

Well, if she says so… It was indeed a good decision to send Narumiya and the others home.

Anyway, while hearing those distant screams, I continued searching for Kasumino-san.

Upon reaching the second floor, I found something.

A faintly glowing object in the darkness. A simple light blue cased mobile phone – Kasumino-san’s.

No wonder there was no response to my messages; she had dropped it here. Picking up the phone, its screen went dark just then.

Without much concern, I pocketed it and shouted again.

“Kasumino-san! Are you there!?”

Then, at that moment,

“Takkun~~~~~~~~!! Over here~~~~~~~~!!”

It was Chika’s booming voice from the other side of the second-floor corridor.

Her usual screams had their use; her loud voice made it easier to locate her than exchanging messages.

“Over here, this way!”

Following Chika’s voice, I looked into one of the classrooms, illuminated by my flashlight. There, squatting down, were Chika and Kasumino-san.

“Kasumino-san!”

“Ah, Takkun… Sorry, I got startled earlier and…”

Kasumino-san said with a wry smile. She seemed unhurt at first glance, but something felt off as she remained seated.

“Kasumino-san, did you hurt yourself?”

At my question, she lightly rubbed her ankle and murmured,

“When I was running earlier, I stepped through a floorboard… I didn’t cut myself, but I think I might have twisted it a bit. It’s a little hard to walk.”

She scratched her head with an embarrassed smile. After a moment of thought, I squatted down and offered my back.

“Got it. I’ll carry you then.”

“Eh? No, no, no, that’s…”

“You can’t walk, right? So this is the only way.”

“No, but, really…”

Kasumino-san shook her head vigorously, but beside her, Chika nodded calmly,

“That’s right. It’s best to keep it still to reduce pain quicker. Takkun’s suggestion is good.”

“Kurokawa-san too!?”

Outvoted two to one, Kasumino blushed and climbed onto my back, wrapping her arms around my neck.

“Kasumino, you’ll handle the flashlight.”

“O-Okay… But are you sure? It might be heavy for you, Takkun. You’re not exactly the most athletic.”

“Challenge accepted,” I said, standing up with her on my back. Despite her concerns, Kasumino was lighter than expected, and I managed to carry her without much difficulty.

“I’ll follow behind. Just in case Takkun drops Kasumino-san.”

“Thanks, Chika.”

With Chika’s help, I cautiously made my way down the dark, uncertain corridor with Kasumino on my back, taking extra care due to the condition of the floor. Fortunately, we didn’t encounter any more broken floorboards and eventually made it to the exit.

In a horror movie, things wouldn’t go this smoothly, but reality often works differently.

It was completely dark outside. To my surprise, Narumiya and the others were still there, looking relieved when they saw us.

“Thank goodness, Takkun… you’re all safe!”

The others echoed his sentiments, expressing relief and concern. They seemed excessively worried, considering the situation.

“What’s with the overreaction? What happened?”

As I asked, Narumiya explained, “After you went in, we heard this terrifying scream. It was like something straight out of hell… There must be something in that old school building!”

Narumiya’s dramatic explanation made me glance at Chika with just my eyes.

“…It wasn’t a ghost…”

“Narumiya, did you say something?”

Seeing Chika sulking, I couldn’t help but smile, knowing the truth.

Then, Kasumino tapped my shoulder from behind.

“You can put me down now. It’s too embarrassing to keep this up in front of everyone.”

“Oh, okay.”

I carefully lowered her to the ground. She tested her ankle, nodded, and took a few steps.

“Thanks, I think I’m okay now.”

Watching Kasumino test her ankle, Chika addressed the group.

“Alright, everyone. Let’s head home for real this time, okay?”

No one objected, and they began to leave, visibly relieved.

Left behind were Chika, Kasumino, and me. In the midst of this, Kasumino turned to me with a serious look and started to speak.

“Hey, Takkun.”

“Hmm?”

“You called Chika… ‘Chika’ earlier. What’s that about?”

“Ah.”

I had completely let my guard down. Panicking, I glanced at Chika, who also looked flustered, shaking her head. No help would be coming from her.

“Uh, well, that’s… from when we were kids. It just slipped out.”

I stuttered my response, but Kasumino chuckled cheerfully.

“You two are close, huh?”

“Well, yeah. Um…”

“Old habits die hard?”

Chika and I spoke almost simultaneously. Kasumino sighed softly, seeming oddly resigned.

“Hey, Takkun. About what I said earlier…”

“Ah, uh…”

I looked away from Chika’s inquisitive gaze, fumbling for words. Kasumino, however, continued with a wry smile.

“Let’s put that on hold for now.”

“On hold?”

“It’s like… I tried to use my special move before my gauge was full. The timing wasn’t right… maybe.”

Glancing at Chika, Kasumino shrugged.

“I’m at a disadvantage right now. I’ll wait for the right moment to challenge again. So, let’s go back to normal from tomorrow.”

Confused by her words, I fell silent, partly because I was hesitant to continue the conversation in front of Chika. It wasn’t that Chika and I had anything to hide, but somehow, it felt uncomfortable.

Leaving the conversation unresolved, Kasumino started to leave, saying, “Well then.”

Just as she was about to leave, I remembered something and called out, “Wait.”

“By the way, I found your phone.”

“Oh, right. Dangerous to drop a phone. You know, dropping it could attract a killer or something.”

I had to hold back a retort about what movie she was referring to. I handed her the phone I had found.

While putting it in her pocket, Kasumino said, “But really, thanks for picking it up in the dark.”

“No problem. The screen was lit up, so I noticed it.”

She looked puzzled. “Lit up? Why?”

“Maybe you got a message or something.”

If there was an incoming call or message, the screen would light up. That seemed logical to me, but Kasumino shook her head.

“I have it set not to display anything when I’m not using it. I wouldn’t want anyone to see my notifications. The screen shouldn’t light up unless I operate it directly…”

Hearing this, Kasumino, Chika, and I exchanged glances.

The phone that shouldn’t light up on its own was shining in the corridor of the supposedly empty old school building.

This meant—

Chika, overwhelmed, swayed as if about to faint. I caught her, making up an excuse on the spot.

“Ah, it’s her chronic low blood pressure! She’s pale; we need to get her home…”

“Is that so? Well, I’ll head home first then…”

With that, Kasumino ran off towards the school gate, and Chika and I, both looking a bit pale, watched her go.

Holding the fainting Chika, I glanced back at the old school building one last time.

Let’s pretend we didn’t hear any of that.

With that thought, I started walking home slowly, this time carrying Chika on my back.

◆◆◇◇◆◆◇◇

“Mmm…”

Only the faint glow of streetlights illuminated the path. Chika, who I had been carrying, stirred slightly and let out a soft sound.

“Awake now?”

“Huh, Takkun…? Why am I…”

“You fainted… probably because the tension finally got to you.”

Her memory seemed hazy, so I chose to gloss over the details of what had happened earlier. I didn’t want to risk bringing back the fear and causing another fainting spell.

Despite my inner thoughts, she seemed a bit down on my back.

“What’s wrong?”

“Hmm… I just feel like I ended up needing your help again.”

Her casual sigh tickled the nape of my neck, but I didn’t let it show, responding nonchalantly, “That’s not true. You did a great job finding Kasumino, didn’t you?”

“But still…”

“Think about it. You wouldn’t have even set foot in a creepy place like that before. You’ve come a long way.”

That was undeniably true. Chika, who used to scream at the mere sight of a passing cat, had bravely wandered the dark halls of the old school building alone to find Kasumino.

Such progress could only be called growth.

“Chika, you were pretty cool.”

“Really?”

“Yeah, definitely. Though your screams are still as loud as ever.”

“Uh…”

As she began to deflate again, I added, “But it’s only been a week or so. If we keep up the training, you’ll definitely overcome your fears.”

“You’ll keep helping me?”

She sounded surprised, so I nodded.

“The deal was to do it before you turn twenty, but I’ll stick with you until you’re no longer scared.”

Smiling lightly, she unexpectedly blushed and said,

“Really? For that long?”

She seemed oddly pleased.

While I tilted my head at her unusual reaction, we neared home, so I asked, “Ready to walk on your own soon?”

“Hmm, I wonder…”

“Wonder what?”

In response, Chika snuggled closer against my back.

“I might want to stay like this a bit longer.”

Hearing her say that, I couldn’t help but chuckle.

“Alright, alright.”

I resumed walking slowly, carrying her the rest of the way home.

📢 Maybe you see "V2" or "V3" and so on in the NOVEL TITLE, it means what VOLUMES the NOVEL is.
I’m the Only One Who Knows the Secret of the Perfect Neat and Tidy Committee Chairperson Who Lives Under One Roof

I’m the Only One Who Knows the Secret of the Perfect Neat and Tidy Committee Chairperson Who Lives Under One Roof

Hitotsu Yane no Shita de Kurasu Kanpeki Seiso Iinchou no Himitsu wo Shitte Iru no wa Ore Dake de Ii., ひとつ屋根の下で暮らす完璧清楚委員長の秘密を知っているのは俺だけでいい。
Score 9
Status: Ongoing Type: Author: Artist: Released: 2022 Native Language: Japan
Svetlana Kurokawa is a well-behaved, high achiever, and super chairperson of the committee. She is also my childhood friend whom I have not seen in several years.However, this seemingly perfect Kurokawa has a “certain” secret…“Tak-kun, you’re here! There’s probably something in there.”In fact, she is so timid that she cannot go to the bathroom alone at night!When Kurokawa’s parents were transferred overseas, I decided to live with her and help her overcome her weakness.“I’m afraid of …… being alone, so why don’t you sleep with me?”I’m afraid of being alone, so I’m going to sleep with you.“Hey, are you okay with my high school life!?”

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