Whenever he and Lucy walked to class in the morning they always heard snippets of conversation from the other students on the road. Just ahead of them a couple upperclassmen were talking.
"Hey! What happened to Kido? I heard he had to be rushed to the hospital."
"Nothing happened," the second boy muttered.
"What are you talking about? I heard his face was smashed! Your room is right next to his you must have heard something."
"I didn't hear anything."
"Nothing?" The first boy asked incredulously.
"Nothing I can talk about."
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"Look, just forget about it okay? He probably tripped and fell or something." Looking uncomfortable he stepped up his pace.
"Hey!" His friend called out and hurried after.
As the two older boys moved out of earshot Kouta turned to Lucy.
"Don't," she said, preempting him.
"Don't borrow trouble. Whatever it is has nothing to do with you."
Kouta frowned slightly. "But it sounds like someone may have been attacked, maybe while he was in the dorm. Don't you think we should at least look into that?"
"No." Lucy said flatly. "We have more than enough things to worry about thanks to Daisuke's insanity and your sense of loyalty. The absolute last thing we need to do is to stick our noses into things that don't concern us."
"Even if we don't know the victim maybe we should investigate for the newspaper."
"No." Lucy said again.
"How many fights have there been since the start of the year?"
Kouta stopped and really thought about it. "Do you mean the ones I've seen or just heard about?"
"Well, not counting the ones involving us, I guess I've seen about twenty or so. I've heard rumors of another fifty or sixty."
At Youkai it was not at all unusual for there to be fights before or after school or during lunch break. Fights in class or in the halls between classes were extremely rare. Those the teachers and school administration punished severely. Whereas they tended to ignore the skirmishes that took place off school grounds; even when half the school witnessed them.
"How many have been killed or gone missing?"
Kouta knew those numbers, the newspaper reported on all them. "Seven dead, sixteen missing."
Lucy nodded emphatically. "What do you think is going to change if you get involved in this? Youkai is a dangerous place; I told you that from the very start. Monsters accept violence much more readily than most humans. Nothing you do will change that."
"Daisuke has investigated every death and disappearance," Kouta pointed out.
"Yeah, and a lot of good it's done him." Lucy said derisively. "He's never solved one single case. There are never any witnesses and there is never any real evidence. He has managed to get a ton of anonymous death threats though. Great reward for all his efforts."
Kouta felt the automatic need to try and defend Daisuke. "It wasn't all a waste. I really think he had something about the four girls who were taking the art class together and disappeared."
Lucy shook her head. "He didn't have proof Kouta. He just suspected the teacher was involved. If he had actually printed the article accusing Ishigami-sensei he would have gotten expelled and the club would have been shut down." She paused a moment. "Now that I think about it, maybe that would have been best. The Chairman should have just let him do it, instead of calling him into his office and giving him that warning."
"How did he know about the article? Daisuke never said a word to anybody."
"I have no clue. He'll know the most surprising facts about some people, and then be totally ignorant about what others are up to. I'm one of his agents and even I have no idea how he gets some of his information. I'm just as ignorant about what his real goals are."
"He wants coexistence." Kouta replied automatically.
Lucy looked at him skeptically. "Are you sure about that?"
"Of course," Kouta said firmly. "That's the whole point of why he and the other Hades Lords created this place."
"Right," she said dryly. "And if you'd asked those nice researchers who were going to chop your balls off what they were up to, they'd have smiled and told you they ran a medical research facility that studied birth defects. Don't believe everything you're told Kouta, and don't trust everyone so easily."
"Well if his goal wasn't coexistence why would he have even created this place?"
"If that was really his goal then why doesn't he enforce all his own rules? You know better than anyone that he breaks and ignores them whenever it suits his purpose. I just wonder what his end game is."
Kouta understood what she was referring to. As a human he was in constant danger of being exposed and sentenced to death for the crime of knowing Youkai Academy existed. He was here only because the Chairman had deliberately misled him; thus violating the most important of the rules he was supposed to uphold. Yet if Kouta were found out the Chairman would not intervene to save him. He would follow the rule in that case. It was a blatant contradiction and not one that made any sort of sense.
"So you think the Chairman is a bad guy?"
"I didn't say that."
"What, so you actually think he's a good guy?"
"I didn't say that either," Lucy answered patiently. "What I said was that you shouldn't just trust him or believe every single thing he says when you know he is keeping secrets. I have no idea what is true or false about him, but I know this; he is playing a game and we are all just pieces on his board. Never doubt he will sacrifice a piece if that is what is called for."
Kouta grunted sourly. "I feel a lot worse than I did five minutes ago."
"Good, hold onto that feeling. A little fear and paranoia will help keep you alive."
In homeroom Nekonome –sensei ran through the usual morning announcements.
"Now as you all know the annual Cultural Festival is coming up soon. It's an extremely important event, we get to welcome back our alumni and celebrate everything our academy stands for. Now I'd like our class representative to tell us how things are going."
"Okey dokey!" Kahlua sang out as she smoothly rose to her feet and went to stand in front of the class.
"How did we end up with the blonde idiot as class rep?" Lucy muttered loud enough for everyone to hear.
Kahlua stuck her tongue. "You're jealous 'cause everyone loves Kahlua!"
"Right, love, that was it."
Shortly after the start of the fall semester their homeroom teacher had announced they would be voting for someone to represent their class in the student government. This had caused a slight stir as monsters didn't usually bother with elections or with the democratic process. When Nekonome asked for nominations Kahlua had eagerly raised both hands and begged to be chosen.
She was the only one. No one else had any interest as they assumed it would involve a lot of work with no real reward. Sensei insisted they had to have an election; it was all part of experiencing human society. So eventually two boys were nominated as well. The following day Nekonome had all three stand in front of the class and give a short speech as to why they should be chosen. The two males gave bland halfhearted monologues about how much they just wanted to help everyone in their class. It was obvious they were only doing it because they felt the teacher expected it of them.
Then it was Kahlua's turn.
She stood in front of the class with her shoulders back and radiating sweetness and light. She spoke in her lilting musical voice. "Please vote for me, pretty please, because if you don't I promise horrible things will happen to you. Terrible, horrible, brutal things that you've never imagined even in your deepest darkest nightmares. You will know pain. You will know fear. You will suffer so that even the Devil would weep for you. Except for Kouta-kun. Thank you."
The entire class just stared back at her in stunned silence.
"Kahlua-chan!" Nekonome said shaking a finger at her. "You can't threaten people like that."
"Sure you can! That's how daddy does it, and you should see how hard people work for him!"
Nekonome shook her head. "In the human world politicians are not allowed to threaten the voting public. Not unless they are religious conservatives, then it's expected."
Kahlua lifted an eyebrow. "They can't threaten to hurt people?"
"Then how do they get anything done?"
Nekonome closed her eyes and pinched her nose. "Kahlua-chan, please give another speech that doesn't involve violence."
Kahlua tapped her chin for a moment. "Oh! I know!" She once again smiled beautifully at all of her classmates. "Please vote for me, pretty please, and I'll give each of you fifty thousand yen."
"Kahlua-chan! You can't bribe people like that!"
"Sure you can sensei! Daddy does it all the time. He's always complaining about how much he has to spend on the greasy politicians and officials!"
"I'll sell my vote." One of the boys in class said.
"Me too." Said a girl in the front row.
"Elections are great! We should have them all the time!" Someone else said.
Nekonome's 'ears' flopped. "This isn't how things are supposed to work."
No one paid attention as some of the students were already talking about how they would spend their money.
Standing before the class Kahlua spoke in her sweet melodic voice.
"Everything is going super great. We have permission to use the auditorium on the second day of the festival. We have handbills and posters ready to put up all over school. And bestest of all we have all sorts of pretty clothes that my club will let us use for the show!"
"Kahlua-chan," sensei said already sounding defeated. "The classes and clubs are supposed to put on events independently of each other. You've just recruited everyone in class to help with the fashion club."
"I know! Isn't it great?! This is going to be the best fashion show ever! Just wait until you see the outfits I have for Kouta and the mean girl! Three words; fab-u-lous!" Kahlua was smiling from ear to ear.
Kouta and Lucy were not.
"It's not too late you know," Lucy leaned over and whispered to Kouta. "I can still kill her and no one will ever know it was me."
Kouta shook his head and glared.
"Fine," Lucy sighed. "Start working on your cat walk."
"Kouta-kun," Kahlua said. "That reminds me, I need you to visit my club room after class today. I want to try out the dog collars and see which one goes with your eyes!"
Kouta groaned and wondered if murder was really such a bad idea.