Amaya closed her phone and looked at Principal Nakagawa.

You old goat, she thought. You got the kids hurt again. The headship’s office felt more like a prison than the centre of power in a high school. When she entered, or even just prior to her phone call it hadn’t.

To protect the kids she had to betray them. It didn't matter that two of the kids were senior to her by twenty years. In this world they were still kids, and her responsibility. “There won't be any more assaults, at least for a while,” she said, “but there's a price to pay for that.” Once more Amaya felt disgusted with herself for what she was about to do.

Yes?” Nakagawa asked? His salt and pepper held more salt than when Urufu was admitted to Himekaizen less than half a year ago.

Our contacts in Red Rose will hamper their actions as much as possible, but they refuse to be flushed out in the open,” Amaya said. She wondered if her face contorted as if she had bit into a lemon.

Principal Nakagawa grimaced. “Bloody cowards! That's why I despise the other faction.” Then he locked eyes with her. “The price. Spit it out!”

Amaya looked down at her lap. She hated it. “I'll have to hurt them both. In return for the Wakayamas to stay safe they want us to make sure the arrivals don't cooperate too much.” There were tears in her eyes now. “Arrivals! It's my little Urufu they're talking about, and Kuritina is just as sweet a girl.”

Nakagawa rounded the desk, and Amaya felt his hand on her shoulder. “What did they ask you to do?”

I have to...” The tears ran down her face freely now. “I was told to ask you to help me break them up.”

The hand on her shoulder tightened. “And if I refuse?”

Amaya looked up at the older man. His face was all blurry through her tears. “If we refuse they'll target Kyoko-chan and Noriko-chan again.” There was no stopping her sobs any longer. “They said they'll make sure the arrivals won't be assaulted, but any friends of them are valid targets.”

Nakagawa sat down on his feet beside her like a man several decades younger than his age. It had to hurt. “What should we do?”

She knew what they had to do. Urufu would never accept any other way. “We hurt the children we love. We destroy their love. What else can we do?”


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