The president’s call, soft with an inquisitive lilt to it, barely registered in Sayaka’s ears.
She was engrossed in the latest report she’d requested from Yomozuki, poring over the transactions of votes moved between students the past few days. She scanned the numbers carefully, monitoring for any signs of foul play.
Gone was the inquisitiveness, instead replaced by a lower, commanding octave.
Sayaka snapped her head up at the sudden change, feeling the president standing closely behind her, her shadow cast over the report.
“Are you taking on election committee duties as well now?”
Setting her pen down quietly, Sayaka spoke evenly.
“No, president. But I need to make sure everyone is doing their jobs correctly.”
The president hummed, amused. Even though Sayaka had her back to her, she knew there was a hint of a smile playing across her frosted blue painted-lips.
“I think the committee would find that notion insulting, no?”
Sayaka sat still as the president began to walk away, her hands clasped behind her back as she moved to stand in front of the aquarium.
Rising from her chair, Sayaka moved to join her.
“I don’t care if they find it insulting. Some things I need to see for myself to believe.”
“And if you saw something you didn’t agree with? Something that you saw amiss? Would you take it as false and challenge it?”
Sayaka took in the president’s side profile as she continued to gaze at the aquarium, the soft blue light emanating from the water casting her features in a faint glow. She was beautiful as ever, stunning in her intensity and powerful aura, and Sayaka moved closer to her, unable to resist the magnetic pull. She turned her sight to the fish swimming around, aimlessly drifting.
“Of course I would. Especially with the stakes this high.”
The president nodded.
“Even knowing that what you believe constitutes right and what is wrong is entirely subjective.”
Sayaka furrowed her brow in slight annoyance. What was the president getting at?
“Maybe when dealing with abstract concepts. Not so much when dealing with numbers and statistics. They are either wrong or they are right.”
The president tilted her head, watching as a stream of small fish trailed each other towards the bottom of the aquarium.
“This election is not taking place within a fixed ecosystem. Nothing is absolute, and what we see on paper may have a completely different context when observed in-world. That’s what makes it all so fascinating.”
Usually Sayaka would indulge the president’s musings - in fact, she looked forward to letting her words marinate in her own mind, turning them around to decipher their true meaning or reveal different angles. But not today.
“Are you implying you’d rather I looked the other way if I saw blatant discrepancies in the numbers? Even when they are in Totobami Terano’s favor? Just so you can get a thrill from the unpredictability of it all?”
Sayaka didn’t give the president a chance to answer.
“I won’t do it. I won’t let you lose to the likes of her.”
The president chuckled, as if to wave off her words.
“Losing is also subjective.”
She broke her attention away from the fish, now turning to rest her eyes on Sayaka.
The way the president said Sayaka’s name sent a chill down her spine, reminding her of the breeze that had enveloped them in the lily field that night. The weight of the president nestled comfortably above her, the touch of her tongue on her forehead. The way she’d held her head as they fell.
Soft. Warm. Certain.
The president stepped closer, her left hand reaching up to gently cradle Sayaka’s chin while the fingers of her right hand drifted lightly over the bandage on Sayaka’s forehead.
Sayaka’s fingers closed around the president’s wrist, her breath hitching as she could feel her pulse booming beneath her skin. She brought the back of the president’s hand to rest against her cheek, closing her eyes at the contact. When she spoke, her voice was breathless.
“Someone could see us.”
The president tucked a lock of Sayaka’s dark hair behind her ear.
“Have you forgotten Yumeko watching us from the tower?”
Sayaka opened her eyes. In that regard, Yumeko didn’t worry her as much. Yumeko had no ulterior motive that her knowledge of the president and Sayaka would serve. It was the others she was worried about, always plotting and twisting things to serve their own ends.
“Let them see. Let them draw their own conclusions as to what’s happening here. If they aren’t fools, they’ll simply take in the image for what it is: a president checking on the health of her secretary.”
She smiled at Sayaka and winked, her blue eyes shining. Sayaka swallowed thickly, trying to quell the blush rising up her cheeks.
“Or not. Let them make up their own narrative. It doesn’t matter to me.”
Sayaka let go of the president’s wrist, and they both withdrew, taking a step back from each other.
“Then it doesn’t matter to me, either.”
The president nodded, once again clasping her hands behind her back.
“We’ll leave it up to fate, then.”
The president turned on her heel and headed to the study, no doubt in preparation for her next meeting.
It was something Sayaka didn’t always believe in, instead adhering to the view that every action or inaction a person took directly impacted their past, present and future.
The foundation of that thought pattern slowly began to erode back when she saw the president gamble for her title. She couldn’t wrap her head around why she felt what she did for the president at that early stage. It didn’t make sense - they didn’t even know each other, yet Sayaka had felt an intense and overwhelming desire to serve her, to be by her side. It couldn’t be explained by reason.
She had no interest in status or power. She had grades that gave her the opportunity to choose any career she wanted, or to even put her intelligence towards making the world a better place.
But the moment she saw the president’s eyes glow before her win, her charisma seeping into the air around her and crackling with electricity, Sayaka knew she could never do anything else but be with the president in any capacity. As time went on, she became aware that she was irrevocably obsessed with the fundamental fibre of the president’s being, the way her mind worked and the way she was.
Feelings, Sayaka had determined, no matter how much she tried to dissect or reason, couldn’t always be boiled down to black and white. She had to accept that it was the one field that was out of her control, the one area that defied any and all logic.
So she had decided that night the president held her as they fell from the tower together, seemingly to their deaths, that maybe fate was real. That there was no predetermined sequence of events, no combination of choices or paths that could have possibly led to that blissful moment other than destiny working its magic.
And if she was fated to love Momobami Kirari, then so be it.