This is a fanfiction by Doughnut Gunso.
Hinagiku turned to greet the person in blue hair. It was Hanabishi Miki, her best childhood friend.
“Miki!” said Hinagiku. “Morning. You are early.”
“Good morning, Hina,” replied Miki. “As you well know, I often come to school early as well.”
“So I can have a few moments alone with you,” she added in her head.
“Oh, I never knew that you were as hard-working as Hina,” Ruka called out brightly. “As expected of Hina’s friend.”
Miki blushed slightly as she was embarrassed by Ruka’s praise, which she knew well that she did not deserve. “I – it’s not that, really,” she said. Upon recovering, she then added: “Oh by the way, good morning, Ruka! I didn’t see you.” The change in subject was so shrewd and natural that both Hinagiku and Ruka paid no attention to her initial embarrassment.
“Good morning,” replied Ruka, beaming. “You can help Hina getting into the school without being trapped by the reporters, you said?”
“Oh yes I can,” said Miki proudly. “As the granddaughter of the former Prime Minister, and the daughter of a politician, I only know too well how to deal with annoying reporters. Besides…” – she tapped her fingers, and two men in black appear out of nowhere – “… I have SPs as well. They can force the way into the school for us.”
“Very good!” said Ruka as she nodded in approval. “This should do. You should have nothing to worry about, Hina.”
“Well, I hope so…” said Hinagiku, a little uncertainly.
“Hina, just trust me,” said Ruka firmly. “Once you get into the school safely, and as long as you keep yourself out of trouble, the reporters will forget about you in about… well, two days.”
“Two days,” repeated Hinagiku. So she still have 48 hours to endure…
“Well, start worrying about those two days after you set foot in the school,” said Ruka as she put on a pair of sunglasses. “And remember, stay out of trouble, Hina.”
With that, she said goodbye to Hinagiku and Miki, and told her manager, Atsumari, to drive on.
Hinagiku and Miki watched as Ruka’s car disappeared from their sight. “So, are you ready, Hina?” said Miki as she took Hinagiku’s hand.
Hinagiku sighed. “We are going even if I am not ready, right?” she asked.
The reporters, who were poaching outside Hakuou Academy, suddenly smelt blood as they saw a pink-haired girl in Hakuou school uniform walking towards them – Miki and the two SPs were mysteriously ignored. Cameras were ready, recording pens were taken out, and flashes began to shine once Hinagiku was “in range”.
“Oh God,” whispered Hinagiku as she was blinded by the non-stopping flashes. “Now I know why Ruka needed her sunglasses.”
“Quiet, Hina!” hissed Miki as the recording pens began reaching for Hinagiku’s face. “Not one more sound! Got it?”
Once the reporters were sure that Hinagiku’s voice could be captured by the recording devices, the reporters began firing questions:
“Good morning, Katsura-san!” This was not a question so Hinagiku felt it okay to reply to with a (weak) smile.
“Do you know Kendo, Katsura-san?” This was a remote question, but Hinagiku sensed danger in it, so she did not reply.
“Where have you been yesterday. Katsura-san?” This was close to police interrogation, so Hinagiku refused to reply.
“Silver Red said that you are the true Silver Red, is it true, Katsura-san?” Hinagiku said nothing.
“Do you know Silver Red?” No reply.
“Do you like wearing male’s clothes?” Hinagiku halted – this question was going too far, and she wanted to make a retort to it. Miki, however, squeezed her hand, and Hinagiku knew that she had to keep walking, ignoring the comment.
“You are holding hands with a girl, Katsura-san! Are you going out with her? Does it justify your preference of wearing male clothes?” This time Miki blushed, but she knew better than to make any comment other than “Move away, please!”
“Katsura-san! Katsura-san!” Many, many more name-callings, but there was no response.
The two SPs did their best to shield the girls from the reporters and their device as they slowly but certainly opened up the path for Hinagiku to get into school. Once or twice they went into confrontations with the reporters, but they forcefully but professionally told the reporters off. They were so experienced in protecting important people that the reporters knew exactly that they were not to be messed with.
Still, it took them over 30 minutes to finally send Hinagiku and Miki behind the school gate. The school guards immediately took over the duty to protect the two girls, but it did not seem necessary any more – just as Ruka predicted, the reporters did not dare setting their feet into the school campus. A few warnings from the school guards did help. With an (almost) empty school campus all to themselves, Hinagiku and Miki disappeared from the reporters’ sight very quickly. The poor reporters could only keep yelling “Katsura-san! Katsura-san!” to no avail.
Hinagiku never appreciated the silence of her school early in the morning, but this time she almost felt that she was in Heaven. She let out a sigh of relief, and turned to smile at Miki. “Thank you so much, Miki,” she said, holding Miki’s hand a little more firmly. “I owe you one.”
“Well, you really do owe me one,” said Miki will a mischievous grin. “So…”
She pressed her lips on Hinagiku’s left cheek. Both girls blushed furiously at once.
“Miki!” gasped Hinagiku.
“This is my reward for helping you get into the school campus safely,” said Miki. “You are safe for now, Hina. Just stay out of trouble.” And then she skipped away, very joyfully.
Hinagiku watched her go. “Stay out of trouble… huh?” she whispered.
After school, Athena visited Hinagiku at the Student Council Room. To Hinagiku’s amusement, Athena turned on the television, which happened to be showing the hourly news report. “Katsura Hinagiku-san denied a comment on the rumour that she is Silver Red,” said the news announcer. Seconds later, a video clip of Hinagiku being escorted into the school campus was shown. She looked much better than poor Taro, to say the least.
“So,” said Athena as she muted the television, “you know that I am here to show this news clip to you.”
“Perfect timing,” replied Hinagiku. The thing that Athena turned on the television exactly as the news started was some achievement.
“This is not about me,” said Athena, “but you.”
“It appears that you have got some very good advices,” said Athena. “Professional personnel, professional attitude, nice outcome. The people next to and behind you are… good.”
“As expected of Miki’s family,” said Hinagiku. There was no point to hide anything from Athena, anyway. “She is from a family of politicians.”
“I am well aware of that,” said Athena. “Which means that I am right to say that you are allowing politics to get into this issue.”
Hinagiku stood up. “What do you mean?” she asked.
“Calm down. I am not accusing you of this,” said Athena, gesturing Hinagiku to sit down. “It is just that I feel there is something wrong with your approach of handling this matter.”
“And you said that it isn’t an accusation,” said Hinagiku as she sat down.
“No,” said Athena as she shook her head. “You haven’t done anything wrong. In fact, it is so well done that you can be sure that the reputation – of yourself and of the school – is not harmed.”
Hinagiku said nothing.
“Still,” continued Athena, “I think that you have not done it very right.”
“So I haven’t done it wrong, but I haven’t done it right,” repeated Hinagiku.
“Pretty much, yes,” replied Athena.
“Enlighten me,” said Hinagiku. She simply had no idea what Athena was talking about.
“You know, the way we interact with the press isn’t just about an answer, but about how we look at the matter in our hands. And this is a one-way path: once you have chosen a specific way to take on the matter with the press, you can never turn back unless you are ready for some serious consequences.”
“Integrity. If your integrity is called into question, I think even a public apology couldn’t save you. Honestly, who is to believe the apology of a liar?”
“But I did not lie!” said Hinagiku defensively.
“But you did not give them the truth either,” said Athena. “You have decided that it is right to handle this with the political way, which also means that you have decided not to be outright honest. So in a sense you are even worse than that idiot from yesterday. At least he was being honest!”
“I…” began Hinagiku, but she could not complete her sentence. She really had no response to Athena’s claim that she was not being honest. But then, what else could she do? Telling everyone that she was Silver Red?
Still, she knew that it would be a lousy and childish argument, so she did not bring it up. If there was one thing she had learnt from the day’s experience, it was that there were times you simply have to keep your mouth shut.
“Anyway,” Athena went on, ignoring Hinagiku’s attempt and subsequent hesitation to retort, “it is your choice, and no apparent harm has done yet. Just stay out of trouble and…” she broke off as she saw something on the television. There was a breaking news that a family restaurant was being robbed, and several customers were being held hostages.
“What is it, Athena?” asked Hinagiku, but she did not need a reply: she could see the news for herself.
“Just tell me you are not going to help this time,” demanded Athena.
“Why? I – ”
“Stay out of trouble, remember?” said Athena. “You don’t want the reporters to come to – oh my God!”
Hinagiku knew what Athena was shouting about. She also saw in the corner of the television a boy in butler suit. It was Hayate, who was outside the family restaurant, looking very worried. Apparently he was in trouble again…