SS Ichinose: Who should lead Class B?

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I, Ichinose Honami, leaned against the railing of the luxury liner's deck and gazed over the scene that lay before me.

All of my classmates in Class B, well, I suppose it will be Class C next month, were relaxing and enjoying their vacation after the tiresome deserted island exam.

It had only been a few hours since we'd boarded once more, but it seemed that all the tensions produced by the special examination had vanished within Class B.

Many were clad in swimsuits, relaxing on the chairs or playing in on-deck swimming pool. I was one of the few who remained in their sports clothes that were worn throughout the past week.

Silently observing the atmosphere, I thought about the announcement I wished to make to my classmates.

I didn't have the heart to interrupt them from playing, however, so I instead spent the time watching alone.

"Something bothering you, Ichinose?"

A familiar voice appeared to my right, and I looked over to the boy who'd joined me. Kanzaki-kun.

"Ah, well, I want to say something, but everyone looks like they're having fun."

"I'm sure if it's you, Ichinose, they'd stop and listen without protest."

"I know. That's the reason why I'm hesitant."

Kanzaki-kun looked at me for a moment and sighed, shaking his head in disagreement.

"Sometimes, you're too kind for your own good."

That wasn't the first time I'd been told something to that effect recently.

I thought back to the words that have been etched into my mind for four days now. The words spoken to me by Ryuzaki-kun on the island.

You shouldn't be the main shot-caller. Instead, you should act as the second in command, the one that glues the class together.

That was essentially what he'd told me back then.

I'd become the leader of Class B because I had stepped up and been the one to take the initiative, getting to know my classmates and earning their trust.

That's right. I'd been appointed my position not because of my ability, but because everybody trusted me.

I think that trust is a wonderful thing. It's amazing that people can wholeheartedly place their fate in the hands of another without a hint of protest, purely because they trust in them.

At the same time, though, trust was a supplementary thing; it shouldn't be your primary weapon. It isn't good enough on its own.

The results of this special exam made it all to clear. Class B finished the exam with a measly 40 points, and I am lost as to what happened to bring about the results of not only my class, but the others too.

This is evidence enough that I am not suited to the task of leading Class B.

"Actually, Kanzaki-kun, I... the truth is, I've been thinking of stepping down as Class B's leader."

I told him the honest thoughts that I'd been having recently.

"W-what are you saying, Ichinose?! You shouldn't give up just because of one single failure!"

Kanzaki-kun reassured me, but I shook my head.

"No, that's not it. I'm not giving up. Rather, after reflecting a little, I think there's someone better suited to lead Class B than me. Of course, I'd still happily play the role of second in command, helping the class remain unified, but I don't think I personally have the ability necessary to outmanoeuvre the other classes."

Kanzaki-kun went silent for a short while, pondering over what I'd told him before he spoke once more.

"What's brought this on, Ichinose?"

"There are many amazing leaders in the first year. There's Class D, which is full of excellent students like Lelouch-kun and Yagami-kun, and Ryūen-kun from Class C is powerful too, even if I disagree with his methods. And there's Sakayanagi-san too, who is rumoured to be a force to be reckoned with as well. Their abilities and the strategies they can come up with are far beyond what I can do."

Kanzaki-kun locked eyes with me.

"Ichinose. You have your own way of fighting. There's no need to be ashamed of that."

"There is if it doesn't work."

"You don't know that yet. It's only been one special exam."

"If Class B keep losing in the future as a result of my incompetence, things will change eventually anyway. Isn't it best to change things now, before the damage is done?"

"What if it just makes it worse? What if you're our best option? You stepping down would only harm us even further."

"I don't believe that. I am definitely not the most talented person in Class B."

I denied his words wholeheartedly. I found myself unable to accept that I was our best chance at graduating as Class A. Like Ryuzaki-kun said, I am not suited to the role of leader.

There must be people who are suited to that role in Class B. Class B was evaluated as the best class after Class A, so there surely must be people within it talented enough to fulfil the duty of leader.

"Who were you thinking could be the new leader, anyway?" He eyed me suspiciously.

"Well, I was thinking that you could do it, Kanzaki-kun."

Kanzaki-kun blinked, taking a moment to process what I'd said.

"M-me?! Why on earth would you think I should be the leader?"

"I am too friendly and honourable with my methods, Kanzaki-kun, but I feel like you would be more vigilant and balanced but without stooping to the levels of Ryūen-kun. That's why I think you should do it. Your ability certainly isn't any worse than mine."

He sighed in disbelief, and flickered his eyes over our classmates in silence.

"I still think you're being too hasty. There's no need for you to step down after one setback," he said eventually.

"Well, you could try it. If you act as our main strategist and shot caller for the next special exam, it could act as a trial of sorts without full commitment."

Kanzaki-kun returned his gaze to mine.

"Are you sure about this, Ichinose?"

"Positive." I nodded.

"Fine. If this is really what you want to do, then I guess I'll comply. You will still be satisfied even if it doesn't work out, though, right?"

"Of course! If it doesn't work out and Class B incurs another big loss, then I'll have to accept that being the leader is my sole responsibility."

I clenched my fist resolutely as I spoke. After a brief second of silence, I decided to add on one last bit at the end.

"But that doesn't matter, anyway. I have full faith that you'll do well, Kanzaki-kun."

"I'll certainly do my best."

I shot him a big smile of appreciation in response. "That's all I ask."

A/N: As I mentioned in chapter 18, I'll answer some questions in the A/N of the next proper chapter, so feel free to ask something if you haven't already.

Other than that, I don't really have much to say about these short stories other than: Thanks for reading <3

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