The next day started out like any other normal school day in April; until Fujimaru Takagi waltzed onto school grounds with his head held high.
Otoya knew instantly that Fujimaru would do something to get himself into trouble; he almost always did. He stayed at the other end of the courtyard, observing silently from his spot. He watched as Fujimaru walked over to the bulletin board. From the disgusted look on his face, Otoya knew he had seen the expulsion notice directed at two of their fellow classmates. He knew Fujimaru wouldn't stay silent for much longer.
His sense of justice was something Otoya had always admired, ever since they were younger. He fondly recalled the excited look in eight-year-old Fujimaru's eyes the first time he'd hacked into a domain.
That expression hadn't changed over the years. His brown eyes still light up like the sun while a small smile plays on his lips. Otoya saw a hint of that expression appear on Fujimaru's face. He was in the mood for defiance.
The head teacher walked up behind him at the wrong moment, just in time to hear him grumble something under his breath like he always does. Otoya bit his lower lip to hide a smile. He also admired Fujimaru's blunt demeanor, though he would never admit that to anyone. After all, the son of a government official shouldn't display such inappropriate behavior. If he and Fujimaru hadn't been friends for years, or if his grandfather cared about his school life, he would be forbidden from associating with a delinquent like Fujimaru. That thought sent a shooting pain through his heart.
He watched the head teacher leave after having scolded Fujimaru and given him three more demerits. One of these days, all those demerits would catch up to him… Otoya sighed; as if Fujimaru would ever understand the gravity of his troublemaking.
Fujimaru went on to cause more havoc by lifting Asada's skirt, much to her embarrassment, which ended in several powerful kicks to Fujimaru's face. They would surely leave bruises on his pale skin, but he deserved them.
Sighing inaudibly, Otoya called out to the group. He decided to hold a meeting regarding the new post on the bulletin board.
"We're meeting at the clubroom during lunch break." He said, keeping his face blank and expressionless. He stood straight and tall, briefly glancing around the courtyard as he spoke.
"Yo! Otoya!" Fujimaru called back, rejecting the use of honorifics. Asada called him out on it, but he justified, stating "But we've known each other since we were kids. It'd actually be weird to start using honorifics now, don't you think?" He affectionately patted Otoya's head, gently ruffling his blonde hair.
Otoya reflectively whacked Fujimaru's stomach, hard enough to shut him up, light enough to avoid bruising him. He walked away without looking back at Fujimaru or the rest of the newspaper team.
Lunch rolled around slowly. Otoya was the first to arrive in the meeting room as usual. He strolled into the room, fixing the sleeves of his school shirt.
He walked into his spot at the head of the table, placing his hands on the table like he always did. His feet shifted into their usual position.
He waited silently until one by one the newspaper club members entered the room, impatiently checking his watch every minute. The last member to enter, seven minutes late of course, was Fujimaru, who received another punch to the stomach before taking his seat at the table.
"It's excessive no matter how I look at it." Otoya started, staring straight ahead. "That even the slightest transgression of school regulations is assigned demerit points-and point accumulation results in suspension." He glanced at the distracted Fujimaru near him with a worried look on his face before looking away and adding, "It's downright tyrannical." He worried about his childhood friend. If Fujimaru kept accumulating demerit points, he would soon be suspended as well, possibly even expelled. He addressed the entire group, meeting each of their eyes as he concluded, "As a time-honored organization, I feel that we, the Mishiro Academy School Newspaper, ought to impeach such an unreasonable system."
Asada and Anzai wholeheartedly agreed, Asada adding passion into her answer. Ignoring her, Otoya turned to Hide and said, "About that… Hide! The scoop I asked for." He recalled the text he had sent Hide just before homeroom.
"Yup!" Hide exclaimed, pulling out his notebook. Surprised by the sudden noise, Fujimaru stared at Hide with wide eyes. "So Hikage, before he came here, was supposedly at a certain well-known prep school, but… According to rumor, he flaunted penal regulations and sexually harassed female students left and right." Hide concluded.
Before he had finished his last word, the two girls had blown up. Both jumped out of their seats, yelling about the absurdness at Otoya. He flinched, caught off guard by their outburst, but quickly regained his calm composure.
He cleared his throat. "However," he started, addressing the two girls, "So long as we have no concrete proof, it'll all be rejected as hearsay. Given the circumstances, folks who'll testify won't be easy to find."
Anzai sat down with a sigh, casually slouching in her seat. "It's at times like these that I wish I knew some like Falcon-sama."
At the mention of the name, Otoya and Fujimaru exchanged glances. Both knew that name all too well.
Asada, on the other hand, didn't. "Falcon… Sama?" She let her hand fall on the table.
"You never heard of him?" Anzai asked, her voice teeming with excitement. "He's a famous hacker. The genius hacker 'Falcon'. Unlike the more common cracker, he's a bit of a 'champion of justice' sort. He's hacked into the computers of bad guys to find evidence of their crimes, exposed corrupt politicians…" She paused. "He's sooo cool, but I heard a rumor that he got caught…" She trailed off for a moment, allowing Fujimaru and Otoya to exchange another glance-this time one of relief. Fujimaru felt stressed yet flattered, a little flustered even, but he didn't let it show. Otoya could tell from the way he crossed his hands on the table that he didn't know how to react to the compliment.
Both of them relaxed as she concluded, "He hasn't popped up in a really long time…"
Little did they know, the 'really long time' would soon come to an end.