"You're being forceful tonight...."

"Cut the crap, Sasazaki," Haruna snapped quickly and interrupted Mami's sentence. The blonde gritted her teeth but continued her refusal of looking at Haruna. Even if she wanted to shoot the mouthy boss a glare, she refused and kept her sight down. "I'm not in the mood for it. I'm very aware that you already know how little I am willing to tolerate right now."

"I asked Tomomi about it like you wanted..." Mami understood the tone Haruna was using very clearly. Even if Mami was unsure of how to continue the conversation, she knew that Haruna wasn't going to let either of them avoid the discussion for much longer. Regardless of how it would go, Haruna did have a right to know. It was the brunette who had requested that Mami get the answer out of Tomomi in whatever manner necessary.

"What did she say?"

"You were right, Haruna.... Everything was connected through Mao." Mami didn't know how else she could put it. It was true that it wasn't entirely Mao's fault. Perhaps the short haired teenager truly didn't have any malicious intent behind it but it didn't change the bad outcome that her actions had created. It didn't change how everything was connected through Mao.

"What is that supposed to mean? It doesn't answer anything."

"What I mean is.... Mao is the connection. We had already known that Mao was the one who told Hana about Rina's secret. There's more though. Mao is also the reason that Hana targeted and attacked Tomomi. It was never really about us, Haruna... Hana wasn't just being a coward that day. She was trying to get back at Tomomi. The idea that she was also getting to you in the process was only a bonus for Hana."

"I don't understand.... What reason could Hana have to desire revenge against Tomomi?"

"It was Oshiro. Oshiro is...or was friends with Hana. Tomomi claims that she didn't know Oshiro was friends with Hana until she had decided to introduce Tomomi to her other friends. That was when she found out about everything... It was also when Hana tried to make Tomomi a deal regarding Oshiro."

"Blackmail.... That sounds about right up Hana's alley," Haruna mused aloud with a small scoff. She knew that any sort of 'deal' Hana offered anyone was always blackmail. A fair deal was simply not Hana's style. It still didn't make sense to Haruna though. What reason would Hana have to blackmail Tomomi specifically? It's not like Tomomi was exactly capable of a lot of things to make Hana angry...

"Hana wanted Tomomi to betray you, Haruna. I don't know what she was expecting to hear but whatever it was... She wanted Tomomi to be the messenger. In exchange, Hana promised that she wouldn't tell you it was Oshiro who let Rina's secret slip. Although I guess that doesn't matter anymore..."

"Did Tomomi ever agree to Hana's deal?"

"No... At least... Tomomi said that she had never agreed to it." Mami didn't know how Haruna would take that. At a time when Haruna's emotions were no doubt running high, Mami knew how prone the leader would be to jumping to conclusions – especially when it concerned Tomomi.

"Mami, answer me this one question... Do you believe Tomomi? Do you truly believe that Tomomi never agreed to Hana's offer?"

"I believe her, Haruna. I have no reason to disbelieve Tomomi right now and neither do you."

"That's where you're wrong," Haruna replied sharply. "We have every reason to distrust Tomomi right now. She has been a rat in the past. Or have you forgotten all the trouble the little rat caused us in the past? She is also not the bravest. Do you truly believe that Tomomi would have had the bravery to refuse Hana?"

"Haruna..." Mami's words trailed off as she began to think of what she should say. Could she blame Haruna for her disbelief? Of course not. But it didn't mean that Mami had to accept it just like that! "I know that it's hard for you to believe Tomomi given the circumstances but... You should have seen the look in her eyes or heard her tone. She was terrified. She couldn't have been lying."

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