The expression “’(dialogue)’” appears only once.
I only did so on purpose for clarity, but if you are offended, please skip it.
From the week after receiving the disturbing advice from the Yakumo family head, Saya randomly changed the time she went to the university, the time she came back from the university, and her route to school.
The purpose of doing so was to make the person following impatient.
When Chiharu was first told about it, he naturally opposed.
“Yakumo-san told you to be careful, didn’t he? So why would you do something like that? It’ll only provoke the other side.”
“That’s why. Chiharu-sama says that we just need to be more vigilant, but it is very stressful to not know how long that situation will last. So if we make them impatient early on, we might get some action, right?”
“Even though we don’t know what action will either of them take?”
“......I don’t understand your concern, Chiharu-sama.”
The one who was following her around was Natsumi, and the one taking Natsumi out was the fiancé, Takayuki. That was almost certainly true.
If that was the case, then if a situation like the one Keisuke described happened, who would be targeted, Saya or Sakuya?
Saya, given Natsumi’s hateful gaze, and Sakuya, given Takayuki’s love interest, they both had their own reasons for being targeted.
That was why Chiharu was stopping her from doing anything dangerous.
If you knew exactly which one of you was going to be targeted, there was a way to protect yourself, but if the odds were about 50-50, there was no need to put yourself in danger.
However, Saya, the person involved, was easygoing.
“It’s okay. He's on leave, so there’s an ‘ex’ in there, but Sakuya is KSS’s number one, right? Whether it’s him or me they’re after, he’ll make sure I’m protected.”
“... I did say that, I admit. But, Saya.”
She was about to say something more, but Chiharu cut her off and sighed.
“...I understand. I guess it doesn’t matter what I say anymore.”
“Fine, do what you want. You and Sakuya have a bond that I can’t even imagine. If you guys are okay with that, I won’t say anything else.”
Chiharu quickly turned himself around while saying this.
She’d never seen him so helpless. Saya’s panicked voice bounced off the door that was mercilessly slammed shut.
(Chiharu-sama, why did you do that? You’ve done nothing like that before)
Saya herself had been living abroad ever since she could remember, and she didn’t know what a typical family was like, so she had always looked up to Sakuya as her brother and friend, and trusted him more than anyone else.
Even after she was suddenly sent back to Japan and saw her real family, the only family for her was Sakuya. This was supposed to change when she entered into a marriage relationship with Takayuki.
But in reality, Natsumi sat where Saya had been, and she lost even her family in the family register.
The person who reached out to her was a member of a prominent family named Kudou.
All the people in the mansion, including the legitimate son Chiharu, were kind to Saya, and she could do nothing but feel confused as she was showered with family love that she had never received before.
At first, she tried to keep a reasonable distance, but Chiharu in particular stood on the border of Saya’s personal space, beckoning her to go outside, asking her if there was anything she wanted, and inviting her to drink tea with him.
It didn’t take long for Saya, who had stubbornly kept Sakuya as her only source of support, to completely fall in love with Chiharu.
Still, she couldn’t call him ‘brother’ for the life of her.
“Did something happen with Chiharu-sama?”
“It’s shorter than my relationship with Saya, but I have a reasonable relationship with that person as well. He always sees you off, but I was wondering why he wasn’t there today. Is he referring to this change in strategy?”
“Hmm... I was just saying that Sakuya is the number one of KSS, so it’s okay, but he suddenly became grumpy. 'Why don’t you do what you think is best?' Something like that.”
“...... I see.”
‘You’re surprisingly clumsy’, he said with a smile, and Saya tilted her head, not understanding what he meant.
By changing the time of day and the street, she could feel the sticky, clinging stares much less.
For the first two days, she didn’t feel any eye contact at all, and then on the third day, she got the occasional brief glances as she passed by.
She was sure they were working with some anticipation, but it seemed that they couldn’t fully predict what would happen.
The next day, on the way home, Saya and Sakuya agreed that they would eventually tire of it.
As the car was leaving the Kudou house as usual and approaching a turn, Sakuya suddenly noticed a figure jumping out in front of the car and braked. As if to say, ‘I found you!’, the figure stood up and pointed a finger at them.
... As for the identity of the figure, it went without saying that it was the girl that the people around Saya called delusional woman.
“What do you want me to do?”
“...... I’ll have to get out.”
“When I stepped on the gas pedal, I felt it was indeed dangerous...”
“I don’t want you to get in trouble if I hurt you with it.”
They didn’t even know if Natsumi’s business was with Sakuya or with Saya.
But no matter what they thought, it was too risky for Sakuya to get out of the car, so only Saya had no choice but to get out of the car.
When Natsumi saw this, she walked up with her shoulders hunched and her foot in the air, and then.
“I finally figured it out, you’re the bug in this story!!”
When Natsumi pointed her finger at Saya, she looked back at her with a smug look on her face and Saya frowned, wondering what Natsumi was talking about.
“I’ve always wondered... I’ve always wondered why the villainous Saya Tachibana is much younger than me. She was the same age as me in the game. Besides, after that broken engagement, Saya was supposed to leave and stop being involved in the scenario, but in fact she was taken in by a nice family and even Sakuya was with her! This is a bug, isn’t it!? Yes, you’re the bug!! Once you’re gone, the narrative will return to normal. It’s all your fault that Takayuki’s mother doesn’t approve of me, that Sakuya doesn’t come to me, and that I have pneumonia! So get the hell out of here! That’ll be great!!”
The heavy coughing that was occasionally heard just last week did not come out of Natsumi’s mouth as she stared at Saya and said so, while breathing heavily.
‘She seems to be completely healed’, Saya thought, and then glanced at Sakuya in the car to see what was going on.
She couldn’t just say, “Understood”, in this situation, but if she say, “No”, Natsumi would complain even more.
On the other hand, she was afraid that if she asked Sakuya for help, Natsumi would heat up in that case as well.
She guessed she would just ignore this place and get in the car as quickly as she could.
As she was thinking about this, she heard the horn of a car that did not belong to the Kudou family.
When she turned her gaze in that direction, she saw the bright red sports car that she had seen so often parked there, and already entered the realm of nostalgia... Her ex-fiancé, Takayuki Tachibana, was showing his face.
“Ah, already! Anyway, it’s good!? I need to get the hell out of here!!”
She left it as if it was a throwaway line and went back to the car where Takayuki was waiting, glancing back from time to time.
As soon as she got in, the car drove off at a breakneck speed.
“... Hey Sakuya, how do we exit?”
“...Ah?... All I can say is... The only thing I can say about her is that she’s not getting any of the education she’s getting.”
She was still herself, pointing at people, speaking one way without listening to their opinions, and using a commanding tone.
If the lady of the Tachibana family were to hear what she said then, her blood pressure would surely rise too high in anger and had a stroke.
However, Natsumi herself had no intention of changing her attitude, so no matter how much she was taught, she would never learn.
It was a wonder they hadn’t met before, and every day since then Natsumi would appear in front of Saya and say, “Bug, get the hell out of here!” Or, “I told you to leave!?” Natsumi swore a lot and left.
Not content with that, she brought out all kinds of amulet items from wherever she got them, and started throwing them at Saya.
There was salt, sake, garlic, crosses, crystal, talismans, star-shaped amulets, fragrant oil, slippery water that was probably holy water, and the one thing that made little sense in the extreme was the virus removal software for the computer.
(Bugs and viruses are two different things, but... I don’t know what she meant about me being a bug in the first place.)
Natsumi’s many delusional comments were completely unintelligible, but Saya didn’t dare to look them up, so she didn’t know.
The only thing she could tell was that Natsumi really thought Saya was in the way.
And the fact that Natsumi fully believed that Sakuya would be hers once Saya was gone.
The fact that Sakuya’s own intentions were not included in this, and that Saya was repeatedly told to ‘disappear’ for something that made no sense to her, made her furious.
Next time Saya saw Natsumi, she would talk back.
She was going to break her down so that she couldn’t come back and say something incomprehensible again.
With these thoughts in mind, Saya got into the car again this day.
... But in the end, Natsumi did not jump out of the car that morning, and the car slid into the university grounds as if nothing had happened.
It was on the way home that she saw movement.
When the car slowly exited the campus and came to a back road, the person who stood there like Natsumi did some time ago was indeed Takayuki Tachibana, although his face was difficult to see due to the backlighting.
“Saya, you can’t get out.”
Sakuya stopped Saya, who had gotten out of the car without warning, wondering what was wrong, but it was too late.
Takayuki, who turned his muddy eyes towards Saya, rushed towards Saya as if he was going to plunge straight into her.
When Sakuya recognized the glint in his hand, he quickly took off his shoes and threw them at him, which caused Takayuki’s movement to stop for a moment as he was hit cleanly on the cheek.
However, the tip of the knife that was raised aimed at Saya, who was in a guard posture with her bag in her hand.
Sakuya’s voice and the voice of ‘someone’ overlapped.
Instantly, Saya’s slender body was pushed onto the road.
A body a size larger than Saya covered her and caught the knife.
Sakuya reflexively jumped over the hood and restrained Takayuki’s body from behind in a wing choke.
“Sayaaaaaa!! If it wasn’t for you, if it wasn’t for you, Natsumi would be!! Go away, bug, go away!! Die, die, die, die, dieeeeee!!”
“How annoying, shut up.”
Sakuya said that without honorifics, which was unusual for him, as if he was furious, and slammed the hand of the knife into the neck of a raging Takayuki, knocking him unconscious.
He then turned his gaze to the two people who were supposed to have fallen into the fold.
One of them was Saya, who was slumped in a daze.
And one more.
“Chi-haru-sama...? Why, why Chiharu-sama...”
The one who had lost consciousness while slumped against Saya is Chiharu Kudou, who had never once tried to face Saya since that day when they parted ways.