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It's Always Me

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“And I’ll have two orders for you.” Mary began to lay out her new conditions for the gamble, “one, stay away from us (the Literary Club) for good. Two, call off your engagement with Miharutaki.” If the latter wasn’t for the sake of Sakura Miharutaki, then it was for Mary’s pride and sense of justice. Sakura asked if Mary was choosing to accept this match for her sake, but the girl in question simply responded, saying, “no, this is for me. If I didn’t do this I’d feel gross about it.” That was true, but Mary was also the kind who’s reluctant to express affection. Her pride aside, she didn’t want to see her friend continue a relationship with someone who would easily discard and act so cruelly to a person so magnificent, so devoted. Sakura deserves better than Aoi Miboumi, “you don’t need him tying you down”, Mary had said.

It’s a risky gamble, the loser would be responsible for earnings and payouts of all bets made on their match. Almost the entire student body of 3000 students would be betting on the event, and those who bet on the winner would receive double their wager. The loser is the bookmaker, taking and paying out all bets made by the filthy rich student body of Hyakkaou. Mary couldn’t afford to lose— she didn’t have the funds to, if she did she would become a pet from an amount of debt she couldn’t imagine being able to pay. She would have to belong to him and do whatever he tells her, as he would “gladly” pay it for her. Though, that’s only if the bets aren’t in her favor.

Aoi started Full Bloom to destroy the student council, especially the council president, Kirari Momobami. He was supposed to become the council president, but Kirari happened to come along— her charisma, intelligence, gambling skill, luster, money, her madness came along.

Age, academics, athletics, those didn’t matter to the elite, it was gambling. Hyakkaou is a school attended by the children of prestigious families, the future of society’s prominent figures.

A few years ago, an older guy in the middle school council had physically beaten Aoi. Aoi was most likely to win so that guy tried to threaten him into withdrawing. Sakura was furious when she found him, so naturally, she was going to report the bully. He, however, saw it as an opportunity. The scene was recorded, so he preferred to hold on to the evidence. “If we told, that’d be the end of it. But, what if we hold on to this? Then we’d have more allies— the kind who’d never betray us”, he had said at the time. So, Sakura didn’t report the other student, though looking back, she realized that Aoi was willing to accept any sacrifice that’d get him to the top— including himself.

As they say, “you can’t love someone unless you love yourself.” Though in his own way, he did love. And he loves her.

So far, the bets placed are 2.88 million yen for the Literary Club (Mary) and 20.25 million yen for Aoi Mibuomi. If Mary wins, she and the Literary Club would earn 17.37 million yen. If Aoi wins, Mary and the club would have to pay out that amount. 

Aoi had a greater plan in mind. The “Great Bloom Memorial” is a festival betting game where you place bets on whichever gambling den you think would win the “Great Bloom Prize” by accumulating the most money. If the underdog— the Literary Club wins “Conquer the Land”— the match against Aoi, they would earn a lot of money. Since large bets were placed on Aoi Miboumi winning the match, the literary club would make a great profit. So, Aoi placed two separate one billion bets on Aoi Miboumi winning “Conquer the Land” and the Literary Club winning the Great Bloom Prize. He plans to intentionally lose the match, essentially giving the club one billion yen and the means to winning the Great Bloom Prize, the latter would win him 500 billion yen from the council— which Kirari would have to pay. Though it wasn’t necessarily for the money, if Kirari couldn’t pay the 500 billion, she would have to resign from her position as president.

He also knew that a given victory would be a pyrrhic one for Mary. In a sense, losing this match is winning for Aoi. He was sure that she wouldn’t also lose because it wasn’t just her, her friends would also receive the consequences. Though, he didn’t account for the group’s pride as a whole, “we are gonna will ourselves into being losers!”

The Literary Club didn’t have to worry, Sachiko Juraku, a council member placed her own one billion yen bet on the Literary Club. So, the stakes are neutralized and the club neither gains nor loses. Aoi’s plan was sure to fail.

Sachiko was neutral, she’s neither an ally of Kirari nor Aoi. She simply acted for herself. She once expressed her thoughts to Mary, “I mean it doesn’t really matter, not to me anyway. You have Kirari and Aoi. Both are talented, charismatic, well supported, and to top it off, excellent gamblers. Two people who’ve never had to deal with a single setback their whole lives” she continues, “and whenever they have that first humiliating loss, you’d want to see their faces up close, wouldn’t you?”

“Losing a billion would hurt you too, wouldn’t it? Why are you willing to take on so much risk to cut into my battle against Kirari?” Aoi asked though he had an idea. Sachiko told only him about how she wanted to observe the way Mary handles the situation, but what she didn’t say was how she’d rather be the one to take Sakura from him.

“I guess I won”, he began to laugh, “well, you’re still stuck with me. At least I still have my fiancée, as they say, love conquers all!” Frivolous as always. He meant it, Aoi didn’t honestly plan on separating from Sakura. The thought that she would truly leave him never crossed his mind. If he lost as he planned, she would come back to him, he would’ve gotten back his darling Sakura— loyal, devoted, mature, honest, too-straightforward Sakura. A love that is taken for granted. Even after; betting off his engagement to her, discarding her when “her luck ran out”, not allowing her an opinion anymore as she is now “an outsider” (though still his fiancée!), neglecting her to obsess over another girl— though not romantically, and overall treating her coldly as of recent, he is still confident she would’ve come back to him. At the end of the day, he’d also come back to her.

Aoi is assured, he knows that for her it's always him.

It'll always be them.

In all his affairs, Aoi would always return to Sakura. A while back, after the day he deemed her an “outsider”, he noticed that Sachiko was around his fiancée more often, if it wasn’t him, one of the Full Bloom members would tell him.

He was genuinely glad that at least she was still his— a constant in his life regardless, though he isn’t quite happy about his plan failing. But, until he was at the top, he wasn’t finished. Besides his ambition, he made a promise to Sakura, “I won't make you regret it. I’m gonna climb that mountain. Stick with me and you can check out the view on top!”

Disgusting. The way she looked at him, pined, wasted time, became weak, heartbroken, all for him — a weak and disgusting boy. It was all just disgusting, Sachiko thought.

Aoi was all over Sakura, clinging onto her and wailing comically, pulling her close as if he was daring Sachiko. Sachiko watched, her anger and territorial nature encouraging her.

“You’re so funny Sachiko! I can’t gamble off my fiancée.” He shifted from dramatically waving his hand to a dark tone, “besides, why would you want that, Sachiko?” Sachiko. He said her name as if someone shoved a spoonful of bitter Pepto Bismol. Though it didn’t work quite as the pink medicine would, he still felt nausea.

“I want her to choose me of her own accord.” Sachiko needs her to tell everyone, especially him who she really belongs with.

Omake: and thus, there was a match between Ms. You Belong with Me v. Mr. You'll Come Back to Me