“Obviously, it’s a temporary illness.”

To my opening statement, Sato-san crossed her arms and answered.

“I’d rather not say that, otherwise what’s the point? Because it’s that Odawara-kun, you know?”

At these words, everyone gathered here nodded their heads in unison.

During the first period break, the members who had played last Sunday gathered together.
The topic of discussion was, of course, Seiichi Odawara’s absence, which had come up in homeroom.
This is the fifth day in a row.

Seiichi Odawara is basically a cheerful guy.
Everyone here knows that no matter how many mistakes he makes in a game, he is always smiling.

“I already suspected it last week, didn’t I?”
“I guess Iida-kun noticed it, huh? I’m a little curious?”

Sato-san groaned and looked at Shun.

“Hayama kun, did you notice anything from your point of view?”
“I think so. When the …… chime rang, he looked a little uncomfortable.
“That bothered me too.”

When the chime rings, class begins.
He is not good at classes ……, which is something that has been going on for the last year.
And I don’t know if he would be that depressed if it wasn’t right before a test.

The other thing that comes to mind is.

“Time elapsed. I mean.”
“Club activities.”

Saara, who had remained silent until then, opens her mouth.

“The last time I saw Odawara-kun was at a club activity. That’s why he was there a little longer than everyone else.”
“Club activities, huh? ……”

Seiichi is a member of the soccer club, and after school on Fridays, he and Saara go to club activities together.
The day ended up being uneventful.

“……I see. The next day, Saturday, Seiichi was also in the soccer team.”

At my words that came out of my mouth, Sato-san groaned.

“Hmmm… …… I’m starting to see a bit of a bad pattern here.”
“Me too. I don’t like to think about it, but ……”
“What do we do?”
“I’m not sure. Can you leave it to me to go directly to Seiichi?”
“All right! I’ll do my own research and work on my own.”

After leaving a reliable comment, everyone returns to their seats after hearing the first period chime.
If Sato-san is going to make the move, I’ll leave that side to her.
Besides, …… Seiichi’s problem might involve me, too.

“Is this a visit to Odawara-kun? I see…”

During lunch break, Shun and I went to the staff room to talk to the teacher.

“If we leave this to chance, I think it will become a big problem later on.”
“That’s right,….I have a feeling that this is not a normal absence, but part of me wonders if I, as a teacher, should step in too forcefully.”

This teacher, although polite, is also a little pushy.
That can be a good thing, but it can also come out as a bad thing, as it did this time.

“So we thought we’d go talk to him in person.”
“I understand. You two seem to be getting along well ……, could you please do that for me?”

The teacher gave his approval, and I headed with Shun to Seiichi’s address.
Incidentally, Saara and Nagase san are said to work with Sato-san outside of club activities.
If they are flanked by those two, the other students won’t be able to bypass them.

The Odawara house was about a 20-minute walk away.
The garden, although small, was in bloom, and there was a garage.
Seiichi’s bicycle, which he usually used to go to school, was also by the garage.

I rang the chime on the gate of the beautiful house and said my name.

“…… Eh, Sora? All the way to this house!?”
“You look fine, you bastard, I had a hard time walking, hurry up and get me up.”
“I’m here too.”
“Shun too?!”

I then asked him to take me up to his house, where I was greeted at the door by a lady with an elegant atmosphere.
She is Seiichi’s mother, but her atmosphere is quite different from that of Seiichi.

“I’m glad you came all the way out here to see me. I know you have a situation with Sei-chan, but didn’t want to tell me about it. ……”
“I understand. I can’t say I have any idea, but I’ll ask him.
“Thank you.”

I was given a drink by Seiichi’s mother, and after refusing sweets because the evening was almost over, I entered Seiichi’s room.

The room was, how should I say it, typical of Seiichi.
To put it simply, the room was cluttered with all sorts of things. There were clothes on the floor, books piled flat on the desk, and shopping bags lined up in an unassuming row.
Seiichi avoided it all in the corner and led us toward the bed.

“Now, let me cut to the chase. Is it correct that the reason for your temporary illness is club activities?”
“……, I’m not going to cut to the chase. However it’s very Sora like”

At my words, Seiichi lets out a sigh and smiles thinly with a tired face. 

“The reason is about Ayado-san?”
“Probably, I guess so.”

With a vague answer, Seiichi began to talk–.

Last Monday, Seiichi went to a club activity.
As he was working as a keeper, the forwards in practice were talking together about something.
When Seiichi wondered about it, one of them asked Seiichi,

“There is a rumor that Saara Ayado and Odawara were playing together on Sunday.”

The two were apparently not the only ones playing at the arcade.
Saara is especially famous, and with Nagase san, she stands out.

Seiichi answered the club member’s question that he could have invited her to play with him normally without thinking of any inside joke and that they had lunch together.

When asked if he was aiming for Princess Saara, he clearly denied it, but it was still a story that all the other boys had turned down.
Naturally, this story reached the department head.

“Odawara, why are you ……”

Watanabe senpai is only a captain and is suitably skilled.
This senior gave Seiichi a concentrated shot at him.

The problem was that the other members of the club got in on it.
There were a lot of guys in the soccer club who wanted to play for Saara, and there were a few who actually asked her out and were turned down.
Seiichi was under the intense fire of these guys.

As a goalkeeper, Seiichi was forced to run left and right, and when he was exhausted, he was hit directly with the ball and blamed for not being able to receive it.
It was not a direct hit. What he was doing was only within the scope of the keeper’s role.
But clearly the aim was not normal.

The next day, and the day after that.
Keeper Seiichi continued to be targeted in an unusual manner.

Friday was the decisive day in Seiichi’s situation.
That day, Saara came to club activities with Seiichi.
Watanabe-senpai, who recognized Seiichi as “lower-ranked” because of the caste system in the club, invited Saara, saying that he thought he could do better than Seiichi.
Although it was a matter of course, Saara refused.

Even though he had been turned down once, the person with whom he had played with as a matter of course as a junior would not even talk to him.
His anger naturally went to the junior members of the department.

The Saturday in question.
In the club’s locker room, a total of three people, including Watanabe-senpai, crammed into Seiichi.

“…..he said to me, ‘You’re looking down on me’”
“That’s an absurd accusation.”
“It’s a false accusation,…… but I can’t prove it. In the club, if a senior member says it’s black, it means that white was black with the consent of the others.”

It’s a nasty type of seniority list. ……
What’s so great about being born a year earlier?

“Then he told me, ‘I’m not going to make you a regular while I’m here.’”
“That’s no good! That’s completely overstepping his authority!”

Shun speaks up and I agree.
It is beyond the authority of a high school senior to take away another student’s position in the team because of some really ugly jealousy within the club.
If Seiichi is not good enough, he is still a regular keeper.
If he were to leave, it would affect the other students in the first and second years as well.

“I’m sorry you had a hard time. …… I understand Seiichi’s situation, and why it’s hard for him to come out and say it himself.”
“Sorry ……, that’s not cool.”
“not at all. Rather, it’s the lame Watanabe senpai who can’t bully a single junior without gathering his friends in his position as a senior.”
“Yeah. Frankly, it’s embarrassing just to hear about it, and when you only have two friends, you don’t have much of a following.”

At any rate, the problem was all cleared up.

“I’m glad you told me. Well, in that case.”
“I guess that’s where we come in.”

Shun and I looked at each other and nodded with a sense of mission.
Understanding that we were clearly going to work together as friends, Seiichi contorted his face and covered his face with his long sleeves.

“…… sorry …… sorry …… I really owe you ……”
“It doesn’t suit you, Seiichi, so get on with it and start laughing like an idiot, laughing at things you don’t even think about.”
“In fact, you really do laugh at the unthinking play, don’t you, Odawara-kun?”
“Shut up……”

I look at Seiichi, who finally smiles a little at our words, and I’m ready to make up my mind.
This problem will also affect Saara.
Then I’ll have to make sure it’s resolved in its entirety.

I took out my phone and sent a chat to Saara.

“We all need to talk once, can we get together Saturday?”

Saara immediately replied, “They both said ok.”

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