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Infinite Stratos Volume 4 Chapter 2: Rhapsody of Two Kittens

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Chapter 2: The Rhapsody of Two KittensEdit

"Laura Bodewig, 2nd Lieutenant, currently an IS test pilot."

Inside this dark room, the humidity's really so great it's unbearable. To clarify, this room is underground.

--oh yes, this...is the darkest part in my memories. This is the 'Anti-Interrogation Patience Training' I hated most in my military training.

This training facility was even used as an interrogation facility up until a few years ago...no, it was used as an interrogation facility. The black stain on the floor is likely unrelated to the humidity.

Then, it's the sound of water dripping. The water droplets would drop from the ceiling in beads from time to time, making her feel really irritated.

"How does it feel? Fufu, you don't look too good."

Weary and unable to stand up, Laura didn't bother answering such a question.

The woman should be the owner of this damned room, but her face couldn't be seen clearly. She was standing at a position opposite from where the light was shining in, and her hands were crossed behind her waist.

Her coarse voice sounded really clear. Maybe the humidity in this room caused the voice to feel really clear.

"How do you feel about not being able to eat for three days? Laura-kun? Hm?"

She hated to respond at this point in time because it would really drain her. She's really that tired now.

"Well, this is a classic interrogation. It's something that was used since a long time ago. In a room where the concept of time ceases, I won't let you sleep nor eat. I'll just make you listen to the water drop."

*GAK* *GAK*. As the hard soled shoes clattered, the woman took a few steps forward.

"Do you mind if I sit down?"

Do whatever you want. That's right. She still muttered even though she had very little strength in her.

The woman who sat down on the chair twisted her neck slightly and slowly raised her leg up.

Extending out slight from the light was a shocking bare pair of legs.

--No uniform? Who-Who's she...

She's not a normal instructor. No, it's highly doubtful that she's even a soldier.

She thought the woman was the owner of the room, but it seemed like she was wrong. After considering for a while, she realized that the woman's tone was different from how the instructors would normally speak, and the volume was slightly louder.

(Who...is she? Why is she here?)

Unlike how they would wake my wavering thoughts, she became motivated all of a sudden. At this moment, she should consider how to take down the opponent.

(Oh yeah, first--)

"Flip the chair and then choke her on the neck—I wouldn't do that if I were you."

(Wh-Why--)

"Why do I know what you're thinking? That's because..."

The woman's face peered out from the light.

Just the mouth section, as her eyes couldn't be seen.

A beauty—she's a beauty, right? Her jaw line's rather refined.

The nicely shaped lips say.

"... "

Unbelievably, that's something she couldn't hear.

To Laura, who's well versed in reading lips, she could easily understand even though it was mouthed silently.

But for some reason, she couldn't process those words.

Even so—

(Ahh...so that's the case.)

She understood it completely.

If that's the case, it couldn't be helped. A certain 'Factor' gave her this idea with regards to those words.

"Alright, then let's begin our interrogation. Laura-kun, do you have a patriotic heart?"

"Of course I do."

"Fufu, it sure is easy for you to lie—you don't have a patriotic heart at all, right?"

"There's no such thing."

Oh well, never mind. The woman didn't care as she pulled out a notebook.

"Alright, where are your comrades? The scale? Armament level? And support is?"

"I can't say that."

"I see, well, as for this problem."

The woman's lips curled as she smiled.

Laura didn't care about the change in facial expression as she started to wonder how to take down the enemy in front of her.

"You have someone you like, right?"

Laura stopped thinking.

"What?"

"The name's Orimura I—"

"WHAT? ID-IDIOT! DO-DON'T SAY IT!!"

"Ahahaha! You're blushing. Really, that's cute."

"I'LL KILL YOU, I'LL KILL YOU!! I'LL KILL YOU!!!"

Having lost her fatigue and weakness, Laura stood up and leaped at her opponent.

And then—

"Ah, erm...Laura?"

"Uu...?"

The person whom she was pressing down on with a knife to her neck was her roommate Charlotte.

The location's the 1st year dormitory room in IS Academy, and it seems to be morning as the sparrows outside the window are all chirping away.

"Huh, well, I saw you having a nightmare, Laura, so I intended to wake you up."

"Is-Is that...so."

Now that Charlotte mentioned it, Laura found that she was sweating profusely, and the strands of hair sticking on her skin were making her feel irritated.

"...So, how long are we going to maintain this position?"

"Ye-Yeah, that's right...sorry."

Laura let go of the dagger that was pressing against Charlotte's carotid artery and backed away.

She couldn't remember what was in the dream, but it wasn't about something happy, right? Her flustered heart's telling her that.

"Well, never mind. I don't mind, really."

"Really? Thank you."

Even though she didn't know what to do about the room arrangement at the beginning, her roommate Charlotte's someone who understands others well, so right now, Laura's really grateful for this arrangement.

After that battle, Charlotte didn't seem to mind either as she stayed with her as a roommate and friend.

(I actually raised my knife at Charlotte...what was I thinking?)

Fuu. She sighed as she gets off the bed, and Charlotte gets off as well.

"Speaking of which, Laura."

"What is it?"

"Well—aren't you intending to putting on some clothes?"

Charlotte again mentioned this. The reason why she would say this is because this Laura has the habit of not wearing anything when sleeping. Her reason is—

"I don't have clothes to wear when I sleep."

"No, maybe that's the case...but, ahh, you'll get a cold."

The towels that were normally hung around here were prepared for this. As usual, Charlotte draped the towel onto Laura.

"Fuu, sorry. Oh yeah, I'm going to take a shower. How about you?"

"Mn, I'll have one too. I have a bit of cold sweat too."

"How about we do it together?"

"No, that's not it! I'm talking about showering after you're done, Laura! Really!"

"I was joking."

Hearing her say this with a cold tone, Charlotte was stunned for a moment.

At this moment, Laura walked into the bathroom, and she heard the sound of the door being locked.

(She's not one who would really joke about. What's going on?)

Did she change emotionally? As her friend, this really bothered Charlotte.

(Oh well, better find a way to make her wear some nightwear.)

Mnn. Charlotte pondered early in the morning.

"Buying something?"

"Mn, that's right."

Laura and Charlotte were chatting away in the dorm cafeteria as they ate the breakfast a little earlier than usual.

Besides them, there were only a few students who took part in the club morning run, so it wasn't too crowded.

Their breakfasts were macaroni salad, toast and yogurt.

But Laura had an additional item.

"Ea-Eating steak so early in the morning...can your stomach take it?"

"What are you saying? When eating a lot in the morning, the efficiency to work will be greater. There's scientific proof for this. Strictly speaking, those who sleep—in other words, those who eat a lot during dinner are the weird ones. All the excess energy that can't be digested will become fat. I won't stop you if you want to grow fat."

"—Laura, where did you hear this from?"

"Ichika (My Bride) said so."

"Haa...I guess so. That tone doesn't sound like Laura at all."

A person with an impressionable personality is really unexpected Charlotte thought as she poked the macaroni through with her fork.

"Mu, what's that?"

"This...macaroni?"

"I know. I'm asking why are you letting it pass through the fork? Why didn't you just stab it in instead of letting the fork tip pierce through?"

The serious expression nearly caused Charlotte to be overwhelmed by Laura's presence, and she stumbled before she swallowed the macaroni.

"Even if you ask me, I...maybe I feel that I have to do this?"

"Oh, so you feel that you have to do it..."

"How about you, Laura? It's rather interesting, you know."

After saying that, Charlotte mysteriously noticed—

(U, was I a little too childish...? It's Laura, maybe she--)

"Oh, it is interesting—"

"Re-Really? That's great!"

"—If you think that's interesting, your mind really has a problem."

"..."

(No, no no, that's not true! Yeah! Laura definitely won't say such things!)

"Charlotte."

--*BYU!!*

"That's really interesting. Uu...since it's rare, I'll try to use all the tips of the fork to pierce through the macaroni."

After saying that, Laura immediately started playing with the other macaroni bits.

It seems that Laura really found it interesting, and this made Charlotte heave a sigh of relief.

"Mu, ku, this is a lot harder than I imagined it to be...over here."

The last macaroni just wouldn't go through, and Laura was in a tight fight.

For some reason, Charlotte remembered the cat she used to keep, and looked at Laura.

(That cat was really clumsy in the same weird aspects. It kept chasing the ball of thread and even showed a look of disbelief after finding that it wasn't a ball anymore.)

"I SUCCEEDED!"

"WAHHH!!!"

Laura gently raised the fork that pierced through the macaroni, and Charlotte applauded her. The other girls in the cafeteria just blinked and looked around, wondering what happened.

"When are we going shopping?"

"Ah, yeah, I planned to go out around 10. What do you think? An hour of shopping, and then we'll go eat at a nice shop."

"I see. Since it's a rare chance, I should invite my bride along. Yup, I'll be a good husband."

"Ah, ahaha...that's right..."

"Not in the room, and he didn't answer his phone. Where did he go to—is he cheating on us?"

"No, huh, it can't be helped if he's not around."

"I can contact him if I use the IS private channel, right? Let's do that then."

"WAH! NO! DON'T DO THAT, LAURA! I mean, even if it's part of the IS function, using it like that isn't good, you know."

"Forget about that. It's more important to find my bride."

"...Orimura-sensei will get angry."

*Pyu!* Laura stopped.

"Tha-That's right. Private time is necessary at times. Okay, Charlotte, let's go there on our own."

"Okay, let's go."

They return back to their room as they prepare to leave the Academy.

Of course, they have to change into casual clothes—logically, that should be the case.

"Erm, Laura, what's with that military uniform?"

"Uu, this is a uniform for formal occasions, unfortunately, I don't have any casual clothes."

"..."

Even Charlotte was about to hug her head. Speaking of which, she never saw Laura dressed as an ordinary girl even though they're in the same room.

"Laura, just wear the school uniform...your country won't be happy if you wear that uniform out, right?"

"That does make sense. Okay, I'll change into the uniform."

Laura then changed clothes at a speed that was not what a girl would change at, and they spent only 15 minutes changing before they left the room.

"Let's take the bus ride to the station."

"Okay."

The bus arrived at the station as they reached there, so the two girls boarded the bus first. It was summer vacation and past 10am, so the bus was rather empty.

Unlike Laura who was dressed in uniform, Charlotte was wearing casual clothes. It was a white dress with light blue color, and it had the presence of summer as it radiated a cooling and casual feeling.

Amongst the buses in this city, this bus was rare. There was no air-conditioning, so the wind blew in through the window, giving a cool sensation.

(Speaking of which, I haven't admired this scene properly. Since it's rare, let's just go out more.)

The breeze gently passed through the window and grazed Charlotte as she looked out of the window. Her hair was fluttering slightly, glowing blonde under the bright summer sun.

Beside her, Laura was seriously looking at the houses in this city.

(...That building can be used as a sniping location, and if it becomes a dragged out battle, the mart opposite can become a place to maintain supplies. Also, just in case, I should check the underground sewers and subways map, and I need to check if there are any independent electrical generators nearby.)

Laura, with her silver hair glittering under the bright sunlight, along with those sharp eyes of hers, was giving off a rather out of place presence.

"Hey, hey, look at both of them."

"Uwa, they're really pretty!~"

"Those girls are rather cute. Are they models?"

"Really? The silver-haired girl's wearing...a uniform? I've never seen that before."

"Idiot, that's IS Academy's uniform! It's custom made!"

"Huh!? I heard that only 1 out of millions are chosen to enter IS Academy?"

"That's right. Only the elites get to enter."

"Uwa~ so outstanding yet so pretty. Isn't that too unfair..."

"Well, gods are unfair. That's always the case."

The female high school students are staring at Charlotte and Laura as they create a ruckus.

In the cramped space of the bus, such intense conversations naturally spread to the two girls' ears.

"..."

Charlotte lowered her head in embarrassment, probably because she was never praised like this before.

On the other hand, Laura just ignored their ramblings as she continued to 'Check the statuses of wartime street fights'.

(IS are the most powerful and incomparable force in the world. However, a war can't be decided with just one person's battle ability. In troop fighting in the streets, we have to deploy our defensive line as troops.)

If they could level this entire street into wasteland, the IS would be useful.

(--While taking down the entire city, if we can consider using large transport aircraft to bombard this place, we need some anti-air weapons that can be mobilized independently. Also, it's best if we can supply the troops with some anti-air missiles. Javelin and Starstreak missiles can be used to attack vehicles. And most important--)

"Laura, Laura."

"Hn? What?"

"We're at the station. Alright, stop thinking and get off."

"Got it."

Both of them get off the bus with some other passengers, and walked into the shopping center in front of the station.

Charlotte took out a magazine from her bag, looking at it and the directory to check where they were.

"Okay, I got it. If we go in this order, we won't waste too much time."

"Oh."

"We'll first look at clothes, and then we'll go get lunch. After that, I want to shop for some life accessories and little decorations. Don't you agree, Laura?"

"I don't understand any of these, so I'll leave it to you then."

Laura was still alien to what girls in their teens would do. Though she's a teenager herself, she doesn't understand all these at all, so it couldn't be helped.

--Even so, Laura still felt weird.

Laura's naturally a stubborn girl, but even so, she couldn't resist Charlotte's words at all as she easily agreed to what Charlotte would say. Normally speaking, this girl called Laura would forcefully decide on what she wants to do even though she doesn't understand it.

(Unbelievable.)

Charlotte has an indescribable charisma.

If there's a need to describe it, maybe it's similar to a mother Laura didn't know of.

"Are you listening, Laura?"

"Hm? Ohh, sorry, I wasn't listening."

"Really~ I'm asking you if you want skirts or pants."

"Mn, both of them will—"

"Don't say that both of them will do...speaking of which, Laura, you're really like Ichika in this aspect."

Charlotte inadvertedtly sighed, and Laura showed a happy look for some reason.

"It's good that both husband and wife are alike."

Thinking that it's stupid to get angry at Laura with regards to this, Charlotte sighed again and ended this conversation.

"Anyway, let's go to the 7th level. The 5th and 6th level are also for females, so we'll just go according to order."

"Hm? Why must we go from the top? Can't we go from bottom to top?"

"It's easier to shop if we go from top to bottom. You see, aren't the shops designed like that as well?"

Hearing Charlotte say this, Laura looked at the book she opened. However...

"I don't understand at all."

"~Uu, well, I'm telling you that there's winter clothing sold in the lower levels! It should be a change of seasons soon, but there's still summer wear at the clearance sales, so let's go there first—"

"Hold on, I don't need winter clothing."

"Huh? No need...why?"

"It's summer now."

Laura said it so casually, yet Charlotte was completely dumbstruck.

"I can just wait until winter to buy winter clothing."

"No, well...listen to me. Girls would normally prepare their clothing before the season changes."

"I see—well, it would be too late if we prepare our supplies and soldiers once war starts. Is that what you're trying to say?"

"Huh...yeah, I guess you can say that."

"So it's called preparing for rainy days."

Though this was purely what a girl would think in a feminine manner, Laura thought this through using her own logic.

Since it was weird to deny Laura's views, Charlotte accepted it.

"Anyway, let's just go in order. If you have things you don't understand, just ask me."

"Okay, it's good to have Charlotte around. You're really reliable."

They took the elevator to the 7th level. As it still was summer vacation, there were many teenage girls in the mall with the air conditioning turned on at full blast.

"It would troublesome if we get lost. How about we hold hands?"

"Y-Yeah."

In contrast to the carefree Charlotte, Laura felt shy as she nodded her head, but she still agreed even though she felt weird.

"Then let's start from here."

"'Third Surface'...that's a weird name."

"This shop seems to be popular. See, there are a lot of girls inside."

Now that Charlotte mentioned it, Laura noticed a lot of high school and middle school girls inside.

As there's a closing sale, the shop's really bustling, so it's to be expected that the shop would accommodate the customers more. However—

"..."

*PAKII!!* The paper bag the shopkeeper was handing over to the customer dropped.

"Blond hair and silver hair...?"

Noticing the shopkeeper acting rather abnormal, the other shop attendants turned to look over.

And then, everyone looked mesmerized as they say,

"They look like dolls..."

"Are they filming...?"

"...Yuri, I'll hand the customer over to you..."

Seeing both of them, the shopkeeper stumbled and went over. It seemed that she just became mesmerized by the devil, or at least she had heatstroke.

"Hol-Hold on, huh? Wha-What about me? Speaking of which, the clothes...are still on the floor..."

After seeing Charlotte and Laura, the female customer who was about to complain just shut up.

The two beauties seemed to just walk out of a painting. Not to mention their slender fingers that are held together mesmerize all.

They're not holding hands tightly, but they're still together.

This made both of them emit an indescribable feeling.

"Ma-May-May I know what kind of clothing are you looking for?"

The shopkeeper let out an excited voice, and anyone could tell that she was excited. She didn't look like a mature woman who was used to wearing summer attire.

The interesting attitude of the shopkeeper made Charlotte forget about leaving the shop due to the overwhelming stares.

"Huh, I'm looking for clothes for this girl. Do you have any recommendations?"

"Yes, this silver-haired girl, right? I'll look for it now, no problems!"

Immediately after saying that, the shopkeeper took the clothes off the fake model that's obviously used for display only.

--Also, even though these are summer clothes, but clothes that would be sold out anyway would be hung on the display at the shop's doors to attract customers. These clothes are obviously meant to be sold, but since they're prepared for 'Important Customers', normally speaking, they wouldn't be removed for first-time customers.

That's right, normally speaking.

"How-How is it? This white summer shirt should match your beautiful silver hair, Miss."

"Heh, light and translucent. I can see the clothes underneath. What do you think, Laura?"

"I—"

"Don't say that you don't know."

"Uuu..."

As what she wanted to say was blocked off, Laura pouted, a rare sight at that.

That childish expression made the shopkeeper who felt that the silver-haired girl was silent blink a few times in surprise.

"White? It's nothing bad, I'm wearing this color now anyway."

"Ah, yes."

On hearing this response that's not feminine at all, the shopkeeper couldn't help but respond blankly.

"Since it's a rare chance, don't you want to try it, Laura?"

"No, it's too—"

"Don't say that it's troublesome."

As her words were blocked again, Laura remained silent.

During this time, Charlotte and the shopkeeper chose a lower-half clothing and a matching shirt.

"I'll have the denim pants. As for the shirt..."

"How about a V-neck woolen sweater?"

"Ah, that's nice. Should I choose the same type of color or a contrasting type...hm."

Both of them happily chose Laura's clothing.

Realizing that resistance was futile, Laura could only stand slightly far away and look at them.

(Really, what's so interesting about that?)

I just need the clothes to fulfill their function. That's really how Laura would think.

"Okay Laura, try this."

"I understand."

"The changing room's over here."

As the shopkeeper lead her to the changing room, Laura sighed.

(This can't be helped, but since it's a rare chance to wear casual clothes, I really hope that Ichika can see it.)

Thinking about this, Laura took off her uniform.

The white silky skin was lit by the lights, making her look like an ice beauty.

(...)

She again examined her own body. Even though her body with only underwear on it was beautiful, there's a refined feel to it as she trained herself physically.

(I'm not too sure about this, but is my body lacking charm to the opposite gender?)

Especially to Ichika.

(Uu...)

She tried to pose according to the poses she saw in those photo galleries.

The images in those photos were really alluring, and the body that was wearing underwear made it really alluring to the opposite gender.

"...Baka baka!"[4B 1]

Feeling really embarrassed about what she just did, Laura continued to change after saying those words.

Looking through the clothes Charlotte and the shopkeeper chose for her, she found that they were all the 'Cool' type.

(If I have to wear it, I should choose the cute one. Then Ichika would praise me--)


...

"Laura's clothing is really cute."

"Just the clothing?"

"Laura's still the cutest of all."

"Ba-Baka..."

"Your underwear's cute too, right?"

"Huh, ah..."

"Let me see, Laura."

"U-Uu..."

...


Even though this was all just her imagination, Laura still blushed as she remained silent.

"No, that's not it! Well...how should I put it? I don't think it'll be that successful, but..."

However, the probability's not zero.

"How is it, Laura? Have you changed yet?"

Behind the door, the familiar voice of Charlotte rang out.

Laura quickly put on the uniform and opened the door.

"That's strange. Why are you still in uniform...?"

"Charlotte."

"Y-Yeah. Well, you didn't like that,,,?"

"No, that's not it. Even so..."

It was rare to see Laura stutter, and Charlotte had a question mark above her head.

"Make-Make it a little cuter..."

Laura really looked childish as she said that, stunning Charlotte.

But she immediately recovered and nodded her head hard.

"Mn, mn! It's better to be cute! I'll prepare it for you. Just wait!"

Laura, who was lacking enthusiasm a while back, just said something really unexpected, making Charlotte agree with an even more enthusiastic tone.

"Th-The-Then, what kind of clothing will be better? Color, build, what's your view?"

"We-Well, it's better to have a suitable amount of skin revealed..."

"Mn, I got it!"

Charlotte immediately went back to the shopkeeper and looked through the colorful clothes.

"I'll take that strapless dress, and a ring as decoration. And let's see..."

Charlotte looked absolutely delighted as she chose the clothes, seemingly choosing them for herself.

"If you want clothes that show a lot of skin, the black one will be a steady bet! It matches your hair, Laura."

"I-I'll be troubled if it's too glamorous."

As Laura was feeling somewhat nervous on seeing Charlotte work so hard, she couldn't help but warn her, but Charlotte's response was full of drive.

"No problem at all—! Just relax and leave it to me!"

"I-I understand."

Seeing the normally reliable and mature Charlotte become this determined, Laura could only obey her.

(But her tastes are better than mine, so there shouldn't be any problem.)

20 minutes later, as Laura changed and walked out of the changing room, everyone in the shop gasped.

"UWA, SHE'S SO PRETTY..."

"SHE'S JUST LIKE A FAIRY..."

After receiving the stares of everyone in the shop, Laura couldn't help but be embarrassed.

She was wearing a black strapless dress with some frills on it, creating a cute look.

Like everyone mentioned, the way Laura was dressed in a slightly-shorter-than-a-mini-skirt dress matches her refined presence like a fairy.

File:IS v04 105.jpg

"You-You even prepared the shoes? I'm shocked."

"It's rare anyway. It'll be a pity if you don't wear any mules."

Wearing heeled shoes for the first time, Laura lost her balance.

While everyone went 'Ah!', Charlotte picked her up.

"So-Sorry."

"Don't worry."

Supporting Laura's hand, Charlotte bowed.

The two people who looked like a prince and a princess looked like they fit into a scene in a fairy tale.

"Can-Can I take a photo?"

"Me-Me too!"

"Please shake hands with me!"

"Me too me too!"

Both of them were surrounded all of a sudden. Everyone, the people in the shop and the people outside looking in at the commotion all squeezed in, and there was a commotion for quite a while.

"Hoo, that was tiring."

"To think that we would end up spending so much time here."

At just past noon, both of them are having lunch at the open-aired café.

Laura ordered the pasta that was of a different flavor everyday, and Charlotte ordered lasagna. Both of them are enjoying their food.

"But it doesn't matter much anyway. We got our clothes anyway."

"Since you bought it, might as well change into it."

"No, well, about that, actually, it'll be bad if I stain it."

"Oh? Ah, are you going to show it to Ichika the first time you wear it?"

"What? No, that's not it! Th-That Tha-That's not true at all!"

Seeing Laura blushing and all flustered, Charlotte believed that she had it right, but she pretended to be oblivious.

"Okay, sorry for saying such weird stuff."

"Re-Rea-Really!"

"Laura."

"Wha-What?"

"You're holding your fork and spoon in the opposite manner."

"Uu~!"

After Charlotte pointed that out, Laura found out she was holding her cutlery the wrong way, and this really made her blush. The spoon that was about to reach her mouth moved away.

"Wha-What are we going to do in the afternoon?"

"Shop for some life accessories. I want to check the watches out. I really like Japanese watches."

"You want to buy a watch?"

"Mn, it's rare anyway. Don't you want to buy something, Laura? Something Japanese?"

After thinking for a while, Laura simply said,

"A Japanese Sword."

"...Something more feminine?"

"No."

"Something more feminine?"

"None."

Laura answered immediately. Though it was to be expected, after hearing her cold response, Charlotte's shoulders dropped dejectedly.

Suddenly, Charlotte noticed the woman sitting in the next table.

"...What should I do? Really..."

Her age's about between 25 to 30, and she's wearing tight-fitting suit.

She seemed to be depressed as the garlic and pepper pasta that was served was all cold now.

"Haa..."

They could feel that she was really depressed from her sighing.

"Hey, Laura."

"There's a limit to being nosy."

This time, Laura cut off what Charlotte was about to say.

Even though she was shocked by Laura's response, Charlotte looked rather happy and continued,

"So you understand me well."

"Just-Just about there...so, what do you want to do?"

"Hm, anyway, let's hear her out first."

After saying that, Charlotte got up from her seat and talked to the woman.

"Excuse me...what's wrong?"

"Huh--?"

On seeing them, *BATAM!* That woman suddenly stood up and grabbed Charlotte's hands.

"You-You two!"

"Wha-What's the matter?"

"Do you want to work?"

""HUH?""

"So those two suddenly resigned. I think they eloped instead of resigning though. Haha..."

"Ah."

"Mn."

"But today's a very important day! The main office will send people over to check on us, so please help. Just for today! I hope that you'll work today."

That woman's shop was a unique café.

The girls would dress like maids, and the guys would dress as butlers to serve the customers—it's the so-called maid (and butler) café.

"I'm okay with that..."

Having changed clothes, Charlotte hid her emotions and asked,

"But why am I dressed as a butler...?"

"Because you see, it really suits you! You're more handsome and cool than those guys over there!"

"Really..."

Even though she was praised, Charlotte sighed, unable to be happy.

(I want to wear a maid outfit too...Laura looks so cute wearing it...)

Feeling really regretful, Charlotte glanced at the butler attire on her.

(Uu~ am I more suited to this image...)

Perhaps realizing that Charlotte looked rather downhearted, the shopkeeper who was also in maid outfit grabbed her hand tightly.

"There's no problem. It suits you well!"

"Is-Is that so? Ahaha..."

Though she looked rather stiff, Charlotte answered back with a smile.

(That's where the problem lies...)

With complicated feelings of a girl, she again turns to look at Laura who's dressed in a maid outfit.

The graceful maid outfit had a slender yet strong body in the midst of it, and her straight silver hair encompassed everything, including the mysterious looking eyepatch.

(Uu~ I'm so envious! Why must Laura be this cute...)

She once again realized Laura's charm.

Even when wearing men's clothing, Laura would look like a 'Cool Girl', or at least that's what Charlotte thought.

In contrast, once she puts on men's clothing, she would be a 'Cute Guy'. Thinking about this, she naturally sighed.

"Shopkeeper~ please help out~"

The floor manager asked for help. The shopkeeper immediately applied the final touches and walked to the entrance at the back.

"We-Well, I have one last question."

"Hm?"

"What's the name of this shop?"

The shopkeeper smiled and pulled her skirt up, bowing as she lifted her skirt in a cute manner that doesn't match her mature appearance.

"Dear customers, welcome to @Cruise."

"Dunois-kun, I'll leave the red tea and coffee for Table 4 to you."

"Okay."

Charlotte received the drinks and put them the tray that has the @Cruise logo on it.

This simple action had such a high elegance to it. At that moment, the workers who became Charlotte's coworkers were all amazed at her elegance.

It was her first time working, yet she was fearless in her gestures. Graceful, but not annoying.

The female customers seemed to be mesmerized by Charlotte's gesture.

"Sorry to keep you waiting. May I know who ordered red tea?"

"M-Me."

Even though she was older, the woman looked nervous as she answered Charlotte.

After passing the red tea and coffee to the female customers, Charlotte asked them if they needed a 'Certain Service' in the shop.

"Do you need sugar and milk? If you do, please allow me to serve both of you."

"Pl-Please do so. U-Umm, I'll have more sugar and milk."

"Me-Me too."

Actually, these two customers normally wouldn't add sugar or milk, but they just want to enjoy this beautiful butler service, so they deliberately answered him.

Perhaps seeing through their thoughts, Charlotte showed a gentle smile and nodded her head.

"I understand. Then, please excuse me."

Charlotte's beautiful slender white fingers held onto the spoon lightly as she silently added sugar and milk and mixed them in the cups.

Even the occasional light knocking sound caused the female customers to hold their breaths.

"Please enjoy."

"Th-Thanks..."

One of the customers received the cup from Charlotte's hands, looking extremely tense as she brings it to her mouth.

Then, the other female customer who let Charlotte stir her cup looked extremely tense as she coughed once.

"Then, if there's any need, please call me again, ojou-samas."

After saying that, Charlotte bowed beautifully and gave off a huge 'Princely' presence. The female customers just looked stunned, and a simple nod from her was the limit for them.

(Ohh, the service industry's really tough. Is Laura going to be alright?)

Charlotte continued to work as she looked for Laura.

And then she saw Laura taking orders from three male customers.

"Huh, you're pretty cute? Mind telling me your name?"

"..."

"Hey there, tell me, what time are you dismissed from work? Let's go out—s"

*DAM!* The table got slammed on (or more like thrown over), letting out a huge clank from the teacups, and the liquid inside spilled down.

As the guys got shocked, Laura said with a cold tone,

"This is water, drink it."

"And one with attitude at that! I want to know you more—"

As he spoke halfway without even ordering, Laura left their table.

Then, she went to the bar and said some words. After that, she put a drink on the tray and walked over.

"Drink it."

Laura placed the cup on the table in a slightly gentler manner (as the coffee tray would break). Even so, the coffee still spilled out from the cup.

"Huh, erm, I don't think I ordered coffee..."

"What? If you're not a customer, get out."

"No-No, that's not it, I just want to check out the items on the menu..."

Perhaps he got a good impression on Laura or got taken aback by Laura's no-buts mentality, as the guy continued to find suitable words to talk to her.

In fact, in this society where women reign supreme, people who dare to talk up girls like this are either brave souls or idiots. These guys are definitely the latter.

"Lik-Like I said, even if it's coffee, there's mocca or Kilimanjaro coffee or something..."

Laura's eyes weren't smiling as it seemed that she wanted to interrupt them. She gave a sneer.

"What? Can you ordinary blokes taste the difference?"

"Huh, that...sorry..."

In the end, the guys lost under the absolute zero stare and mockery of Laura as she backed away to let them drink their coffee.

"Get out once you people are done. Stop hogging the seats."

"Yes..."

The German Ice side of Laura still remains.

But the hard-to-approach attitude of hers, coupled with her pretty looks seemed to become a charm, as the male customers in the shop were giving a 'I want to be served the same manner'.

"That-That girl's amazing..."

"I want to be scolded by her, stared down by her, looked down by her!"

Even though quite a few customers were rather excited, the other customers and even the staff members pretended not to notice it as they continued with that work.

"We-Well, can I add another order? If possible, I'll have that blond butler!"

"I want coffee! Can the silver-haired maid come over?"

"I want the bishounen butler!"

"I want the bishoujo maid!"

This commotion spread throughout the entire shop, causing an explosive ruckus.

Feeling really troubled, Charlotte and Laura didn't know what to do, but the shopkeeper moved in and directed them to whichever table they needed to go to and controlled the way they were called. As expected of a professional, the shopkeeper was clear on the instructions, and they skillfully finished serving 5 times the usual number of customers.

This chaotic situation maintained itself for about 2 hours. As Charlotte and Laura were mentally tired, something happened.

"EVERYONE, DON'T MOVE!!!"

Three men broke in and shouted loudly.

For a while everyone present didn't know what was going on, but after hearing a gunshot, someone screamed.

"KYAAAAHHHH!!!"

"SHUT UP! BE QUIET!!"

The men were dressed in jackets and jeans. Their heads were masked and they had guns. They also had quite a lot of bank notes in the bags behind them.

In one look, anyone could tell that they were robbers, and they had just robbed a bank.

The 20th century manga attire stunned everyone, but that was something else altogether. Besides, they were savage criminals with guns, so everyone had to follow their orders.

"HELLO—THE ROBBERS INSIDE! YOU'RE ALREADY SURROUNDED! HURRY UP AND SURRENDER! I REPEAT—"

The police sealed off the place extremely fast, creating a yellow area in front of the station. Looking through the windows, the patrol cars sealed off the roads outside the shop, and they were policemen dressed in bulletproof vests and riot shields in their hands, forming a perimeter.

"...For some reason—"

"...The police are responding in the same manner."

"...How old fashioned..."

Several customers remembered the old-chronicles of history that wouldn't be useful to teenagers, forgetting that they were hostages as they muttered.

"Wha, what do we do, aniki[4B 2]!? If this keeps up, we'll all—"

"Don't panic! There's nothing to panic. We have hostages. They can't force their way in."

What looks like the leader of the trio, a relatively well-built man said this, and the other two that wanted to run away naturally regained their confidence.

"He-Hehe, that's right! We have lots of cash to get this."

*DUKIN!* As the hard sound of metal could be heard, the men started loading their pump-action shotguns, and then shot at the ceiling to terrify them.

"KYAAAHHH!!"

As the lights shattered, the (mentally) lost female customers let out an ear piercing scream. In response, the leader fired a pistol to make her shut up.

"SHUT UP! WE WON'T KILL YOU IF YOU FOLLOW WHAT WE DO, GOT IT!?"

The woman went pale and nodded a few times, biting her lips tight for fear that she could let out her voice.

"HEY, THE POLICE OUTSIDE, YOU CAN HEAR ME, RIGHT!? IF YOU WANT ALL THE HOSTAGES TO ESCAPE SAFELY, PREPARE A CAR FOR US HERE! OF COURSE, YOU ARE NOT ALLOWED TO SEND CARS AFTER US, NOR ARE YOU ALLOWED TO PUT A TRACKING DEVICE ON US!!"

After the man shouted that coolly, he added a 'This is payment for being our gofer' and shot at the cops.

Luckily, the bullet only broke the window of a patrol car, but that was enough to scare the surrounding onlookers.

"Hehe, these guys are in a mess."

"Someone said that 'It's easier to commit a crime in a peaceful country', so that's true after all!"

"Yeah."

The men gave vicious smiles, but a pair of eyes were observing them.

(One of them has a shotgun, another has a submachine gun, and the boss has a pistol. There may be other weapons prepared, but anyway--)

Charlotte continued to keep low as she calmly analyzed the situation.

Checking the situation in the shop again, she moved her eyes, but suddenly widened them in shock.

Other than the criminals, the only one standing in the shop was Laura. Besides, the pretty girl that would dazzle anyone with her silver hair and eyepatch would make anyone want to stop for her.

"What's with you? Didn't I tell you to be quiet?"

Unexpectedly, the boss went over. Laura just glanced at his gun and looked away.

"Hey, are you listening? Or do you not know Japanese?"

"Forget about it, Aniki. Isn't this good? We have lots of time, so let's get this girl to serve us!"

"Ah? What are you saying, kid?"

"Because you see, she's really cute!"

"I-I agree! I've never been to a maid café before..."

The two henchmen snickered, looking rather excited yet shy. The boss frowned, and sat down on the sofa.

"Humph, oh well, I'm thirsty anyway. Hey, bring me the menu!"

Glancing at the three men, Laura didn't look back as she walked to the bar.

And brings out a jug of water with ice filled to the brim.

"...What's this?"

"Water."

"No, we want a menu..."

"Shut up and drink it—if you dare."

Laura suddenly spun the tray, and the ice water naturally dances in mid-air. It seems that she wanted to overturn it as she grabbed the ice—and flicked it out.

"OUCH!! WH-WHA-WHAT ARE YOU—"

That was an ice bullet from Laura's finger as the ice bullet immediately knocked out the index finger, separating it from the trigger. The eyelids, eyebrows and throat got struck while he was defenseless.

And before the criminal could even roar, Laura launched a knee-strike at another guy's abdomen.

"STOP MESSING AROUND! YOU PUNK!!"

Quick to recover from the pain, the boss immediately started firing.

The explosion of the bullet could be heard, but it didn't hit Laura.

Laura used everything in the shop, including sofa, tables, plants, vending machines as cover as her slender body darted through them at an unimaginable speed.

"An-Aniki! This-This brat—"

"SHUT UP! SHE'S JUST A PUNK, HURRY UP AND DEAL WITH—"

"—Unfortunately for you, there's not just one."

Closing in behind the boss while he was reloading was a bishounen dressed in butler attire—correction, it's the bishoujo Charlotte.

Saying this, Charlotte sighed in pity. The reason wasn't just because she got involved in some needless criminal activity, but also that Laura took action without waiting—and that she had to support her.

"WHAT!? You—"

"Ah, good thing I'm in butler attire. Yup, then I can lift my leg without worry."

Charlotte said that as she kicked the pistol off the boss' fingers.

Then, she raised her leg, and it landed on the shoulder of the man who was holding the shotgun, making him unable to fight back. With a crisp rattling sound, the man's arm that was holding the shotgun fell in a limp.

Both of them were already used to it—because, this isn't some hi-level combat.

This was also proof of how many tough battles they'd been through.

Once someone becomes a personal IS pilot, any country would have a mock training session for 'All possible scenarios', and that applies for representative cadets as well.

They're trained to overcome difficulties even when they can't deploy their ISes.

Of course, Laura, who was a soldier, had much better skills, reaction ability and physical ability than Charlotte, who was not from military personnel.

But it wasn't too much of a problem for her to handle this.

"Target 2's taken down—Laura, what about you?"

"No problems. Target 3's taken down as well."

Both of them confirmed that the two henchmen had lost all consciousness and mobility (they're knocked out), and nodded at each other.

Only the final target was left—the boss. As expected, the guy who got his finger kicked readied his pistol in his left hand, trying to stand up.

"ST-STOP MESSING AROUND!! HOW, HOW CAN I, HOW CAN I LOSE TO TWO BRATS LIKE THAT...!"

The moment he was about to squeeze the trigger, Laura went leaping forward like a bullet.

Turning around to dodge the first bullet, Charlotte stepped on the special @Cruise tray under her foot.

The 'Item' that was stepped on the edge flew in mid-air, and flew to Laura's hand that was just there.

It was a black killer object with a blunt glow. Laura grabbed the pistol that could kill at will and pointed it at the boss' forehead.

"Too slow. Die."

"Huh? Laura, hold—"

*CLANK!* What hit the boss' head wasn't a bullet, but the butt of the pistol. The man fell onto the floor lifelessly like a puppet with its strings cut, lying motionlessly.

"All targets secured."

"...Haa, I was scared there for a while..."

"Because if you said that, amateurs would hesitate and wouldn't squeeze the trigger. That's the correct way to deal with this."

"No, well, even so."

--Laura won't really shoot it.

Charlotte didn't say it out.

The shop went quiet for quite a while. Stunned by this fast roller-coaster-like situation, the 'Civilians', the customers and workers started trembling as they looked up.

"Is-Is it over...?"

"We're save..."

"How, how did we..."

Though everyone knew that they were safe, they couldn't understand the situation and could only blink frantically and stare blankly at Laura and Charlotte.

And the shopkeeper, who hadn't fully recovered, was thinking of something completely unrelated—that was, a report to the main office 'A pretty silver-haired maid and handsome blond male (female) butler took down bank robbers'. Would the company believe her...?

"We- WE'RE SAVED!"

"THANK GOODNESS! THAN-THANK YOU, MAID-SAN, BUTLER-SAN, THANK YOU!!"

Everyone in the shop probably felt some surreal sense now and a commotion spread throughout the shop.

Seeing this situation, the police squads determined the current situation and rushed up.

"Fuu, the Japanese police are rather outstanding too."

"Argh, Laura! We're representative candidates and personal IS pilots. Got to avoid being the focus of attention!"

"You're right. Got to say sorry to everyone else then."

As expected, even with the police squads carrying out traffic control, the media reporters went through the forbidden boundary and rushed in.

--But things went for the worst.

"I'LL BLOW EVERYTHING UP INSTEAD OF GOING TO JAIL!"

The boss whom everyone thought was unconscious lost his mind as he stood up, flipping open the jacket flaps on both side.

Plastic explosives could be seen on the inside of his jacket, and it seemed like it could blow up a 40 meter place. Of course, the ignition trigger was in his hands.

"Wa--..."

"Still so old-fashioned until the end~..."

Someone accidentally said this, but there's even more fear in the shop now. However—

"Really, you don't know when to give up."

Laura suddenly lifted her right foot as if she was trying to lift her skirt, and the white fabric that was barely seen under the skirt attracted the male gaze. At that moment, she used this time to stamp the foot down.

The heel hit the table, which then tumbled, and the pistol on the table flew out. Charlotte rolled out from behind and grabbed that pistol. And then—

*DA DA DA DA DA!!*

"Checkmate!"

She quickly fired five X2 bullets, and they landed accurately on the ignition setup, the explosion fuse and the wires.

"Wanna continue?"

"Your arm will be next."

The sounds of two pistols being knocked together made the guy lose his forced viciousness as he trembled and apologized.

"So-Sorry, SORRY! I, I WON'T DO IT AGAIN! I PROMISE! PLEASE SPARE ME..."

Without listening to the declaration of surrender, Laura and Charlotte left the scene calmly like a black whirlwind.

"It's evening now."

2 hours after the incident happened, both of them finished what they wanted to buy and left the shopping mall in front of the station. It's only now that they realized that the sky's orange.

"Have you gotten all that you want?"

"Yup. Speaking of which, Laura. You wanted to buy your own stuff, but you ended up saying 'I'll leave it to you then' or 'Anything that suits you'. You can't do that as a girl."

"Don't rattle on trivial things. You'll age really fast."

"I-I'M NOT OLD!"

In fact, Charlotte even thought of something, so Laura's words made her jump.

What she thought about—was Ichika.

(Speaking of which, he's really like an old man at times...)

In other words, she may have more or less gotten influenced by him unknowingly.

Thinking about this, she can't just say that Laura's 'Easily Influenced'.

"Ah yes. Let's go to the park opposite."

"The park?"

"Mn. The Castle Park. It was formerly a fortress."

"Oh, that's interesting. I heard that Japanese fortresses were hard to break through. Even though they're just remains of a fortress, there's value in seeing this."

Laura still viewed this from a military perspective, but Charlotte couldn't say anything with regards to that. Everyone had their own feelings, people had to observe, understand and not force things on each other.

"Speaking of which, we really bought a lot of stuff. The shopkeeper secretly gave us money and we ended up buying a lot more than what we expected. That was a great help."

"Uu, money? Speaking of which, my account should have about 20 million Euros—"

"Huh? You have that much money?"

"Ahh, well, I was affiliated to the military when I was born anyway. And ever since I became an IS representative candidate, I got more money."

(I got a similar funding but I never had so much money...)

"But I don't know how to get the money because I never withdrew money before."

"Ah—hm, I see...it's a good thing that you saved up a lot. I'll teach you how to use the money then."

"Mn, I'll leave it to you then. But that's because I didn't need money up till now. The army's supplies were enough for me, and it's the same when doing undercover. I won't take anything other than from the briefing people, or else I'll reveal myself too easily."

"Let's not mention that then. Anyway, after we go to the park, let's see if there's a crepes stall around."

"Hm? Crepes stalls? Why?"

"Well, during rest time in the shop, someone in the shop told me a charm 'You'll be really fortunate if you can eat a mixed berry crepes from the crepes stall in this park'."

"'Charm'...is it some Japanese occult?"

"Umm, it's good luck."

"Oh, a good omen."

I see. Laura nodded her head, but Charlotte gave a slightly troubled look.

(Uu—it's not wrong to say that, but wouldn't it be more feminine to call it a charm?)

Even so, Laura still followed along, so Charlotte immediately began looking for the shop.

But there was no need to look for it, as the shop was right in front of them.

The shop stood there, and a lot of high school girls were gathered around it, probably because club activities ended or they just went out.

"Let's hurry up and go there then!"

Charlotte grabbed Laura's hand with both hands and walked towards the mobile crepes shop that was modified from a van.

"Sorry, please give me two mixed berry crepes."

On hearing Charlotte's words, the 25-year-old male shopkeeper with a moustache politely lowered his head and said,

"Ahh—I'm sorry. We're sold out on mixed berry flavor today."

"Ah, I see. That's a pity....do you want another flavor, Laura?"

"Hm? I want strawberry and grape then."

Laura raised both fingers to indicate that she wanted two and even got ready to pay.

"No need for that, Laura. I'll pay here. You came here with me anyway."

"Is that so? Don't mind it. I'm just trying out how to spend my salary. What's my score?"

The tone was not like a teenage girl, but Charlotte could only give up after hearing Laura say this so earnestly.

"100 points."

"Fufufu, I knew it."

Laura said that happily and received the crepes from the boss.

"Which one do you want?"

"Mn~ strawberry then."

Both of them sit side by side on a bench that's somewhat far away from the shop.

"Mu, mn, this is really nice!"

"Yeah. This is the first time I'm eating crepes, and I find it nice too."

Charlotte was a little depressed that she didn't get to buy the legendary mixed berry flavor, but the softness and flavor of the crepe made her voice sound even happier.

"Delicious~ we'll come back again. I'll get everyone along!"

"If that's the case, I want to get Ichika along."

"Tha-That's cheating! Really!"

But after seeing that Laura could be honest with her own feelings, Charlotte felt somewhat envious.

(I-If-If I could come along with Ichika as well, I would be really happy too...)

Charlotte couldn't help but remember the dream sequence last week—of course, it wasn't something that could be said easily—and couldn't help but blush.

It wasn't directed at anyone, but recalling these ambiguous feelings made Charlotte eat the crepes really quickly.

(Uu~ it's a dream, a dream! That's not really, a~uu~...forget it, forget it, forget it!)

"Charlotte."

"Mn? What is it, Laura—"

Without warning, Laura licked Charlotte's lips lightly.

"WHA-WHAT WERE YOU DODODODODODOODO...!?"

"You have sauce on your face."

"So-SoSo-SoSoSoSoSowhat, huhhuhhuhHUUUH?"

"My hands are full."

Saying that Laura, raised the crepes in her left hand and the bags in the right hand for Charlotte to see.

"The-Then you could have told me—"

"But it looked like it was about to fall off."

Actually, there wasn't really any significance. Laura tilted her head, not knowing what Charlotte was being all panicky about.

Right now, she looked like a cat who'd do anything it wants as she easily went past the barriers the human heart would have...or that's the impression Charlotte had.

"Ah."

Laura licked her shoulder again like a cat combing its own fur.

"~!"

This sudden action caused Charlotte's heart to pound like crazy.

This wasn't a question of whether she liked someone of the same gender. If there was such a pretty girl of the same age being this intimate with her, anyone's heart would pound wildly once or twice.

(Uuu~ Laura just didn't realize her own actions and appearance. That's why she lacked such awareness..)

Though she was thinking about this and grumbling, Charlotte was a pretty girl as well, but humans just couldn't understand themselves.

"Don't be so angry. I'll share some of my crepes with you."

"I-Itadakimasu."

Trying to hide her own embarrassment, Charlotte widened her mouth and took a bite out of Laura's crepes.

"Ah, speaking of which, that crepes shop never sold mixed berry flavor."

"Huh?"

"The menu never had it. Besides, the kitchen didn't have a sauce of a similar color."

"Is-Is it true? You saw it really clearly."

"Of course. What'll happen if it's a disguise for a terrorist? If someone ignites a grenade at that distance, our lives will be in danger even if we deploy our ISes quickly."

"...So you were observing like that."

Was she mindful of the rumor too? Laura's really a girl! ...but that didn't seem to be the case as Charlotte lowered her shoulders dejectedly.

"But we can still eat a mixed berry flavor."

"?"

"What flavor's this crepe?"

"What flavor, grape...ah!"

Seeing the smile on Laura's face, Charlotte suddenly had a brainflash.

"Ahh! Strawberry and blueberry!"

"Correct answer!"

Laura took another bite off her crepes.

"—Umm, Laura! Blueberry and grapes are different!"

"But it's like grapes, right? And if I said 'I want the blueberry flavor' you'll find out, Charlotte."

On hearing that...Charlotte remembered. When Laura ordered strawberry and grape, the boss even smiled in an interesting manner.

"I see...'The mixed berry flavor that would be sold out immediately', so that's how the charm goes."

Realizing this, Charlotte nodded her head, and felt embarrassed for thinking that Laura 'lacks awareness as a girl'.

She thought that she knew everything, but she didn't know anything at all. Realizing this, Charlotte blushed again, but the reason was different from before.

(I-I see. So that's how it is...it-it's true that I'll be really happy if I eat a mixed flavor crepe with my boyfriend...)

Charlotte started remembering the things Laura did till here, and the role became that of Ichika's. She then replayed it again, and it wouldn't stop playing for the next few days.

"Speaking of which, summer's about to end."

"Yeah."


Both of them had a common understanding even without saying it out. This year, in summer—no, not just summer. This year would be a very important phase for them. Not just in their youth, but also in their lives. That was what they were thinking now.

Both of them will never ever forget...

The first time they met their first love at the age of 15—

"Wha-What, is this...?"

"Mn~♪ , kawaii[4B 3]. It really suits you, Laura!"

"Don-Don't hug me! Uu, I can't move like this..."

"Fuufu-, no~ way. Cats are to stay on the knees obediently."

"You-You're a cat too..."

Laura and Charlotte were having a conversation that would make anyone chuckle.

After dinner, the two of them had nothing to do, and after rolling on the bed awhile, Charlotte suggested that they should hurry up and wear the pajamas they bought, and so it ended up like this.

"Are these...really pajamas?"

"Yup, that's right. It's nice to sleep in, right?"

"How-How would I know without sleeping?"

It wasn't unreasonable for Laura to not be suspicious. Though they were really in pajamas, it was a rare type at that.

The bag-shaped clothing covered their bodies, revealing just a face. Also, there were a pair of cat ears on their heads, and there were paw pads on their hands and feet.

--In other words, these were kitty pajamas.

"It-It's better to sleep naked. That's a lot easier."

"No~ and it suits you. It's a waste if you take it off!"

Right now, both of them were dressed like that. Laura was in the black kitty pajamas, and Charlotte in the white. And ever since they changed into pajamas, Charlotte had been hugging Laura from behind, letting Laura sit on her own knees. It seemed that she really liked this get-up.

File:IS v04 141.jpg

"Now Laura, since it's a rare chance, how about a little nya~n~?"

"I-I refuse! Why must I do that?"

"Huh—because it's cute~. Cuteness takes precedence~"

Charlotte smiled with what sounded like laughter, and to Laura, that was a powerful enemy she had never met before.

Anyway, she continued to be coerced with things like 'It's cute so it doesn't matter', 'Why can we not wear this', 'Too bad I have to reject your request', and with these unreasonable, illogical, baseless things that were 180 degrees different from usual, Laura found herself being hugged by Charlotte on the knees the moment she recovered.

"Hurry up, hurry up and try it~ nya~n~♪"

"Ny-Nya~n~"

Though she was shy, Laura the black cat with the eyepatch raised her hand out like that, causing Charlotte to be really happy. Maybe this could rival the data of a certain space battleship main cannon.[4B 4]

"Laura's so cute~. Let's have a photo! Okay? Okay!"

"You-You want to keep a record? I refuse!"

"Don't say that~"

*KOK KOK!*

"Come in~"

Charlotte responded with an intimate tone only the girls dorm would have, and the radiant smile caused Laura to blush.

"Hai! Oh, you're dressed quite differently. Black and white cats."

The one who entered the room was Ichika.

(EEHHHHHHHHH!!? DID-DID HE SUDDENLY ENTER THIS ROOM? WHY DID IT END UP LIKE THAT? SPEAKING OF WHICH, WHY TODAY!? AHHH, I'M STILL DRESSED IN CAT PAJAMAS! NO-NO, I-I BOUGHT THIS BECAUSE I FELT THAT IT WAS CUTE. I-I WOULD WEAR SOMETHING MORE MATURE NORMALLY, RIGHT!? NO, THAT'S NOT IT!!)

Charlotte's mind was spinning rapidly. Even though she intended to try and explain, what she ended up saying were ambiguous sounds like 'ah, huh, uu...'.

"It seemed that you called me today. Sorry that I couldn't pick up the phone that time, but it was an urgent case related to IS, so I couldn't call the outside world. I still couldn't contact you after I returned back in the evening, so I just came along to look."

"I-I case. Mn, you're really attentive as a bride. That's worth praising."

Using the opportunity while Charlotte was panicking, Laura got away from her arms, folded her arms in front of her chest and stood up as she said that, but without the usual intimidating presence.

Besides, Laura was dressed in black cat pajamas with cat ears and cat paws. More than intimidating, it made her twice as cute.

"It-It seems that I turned my phone to silent and left it in the bag. Ah-Ahaha."

Having regained some sense somewhat, Charlotte took out her phone and said that.

But she was also dressed in white cat pajamas with cat ears and cat paws. As the scene in front of him was really unbelievable, even Ichika was worrying about where he should focus on.

"Fuu."

(WAAHHH!! I GOT LAUGHED AT~!! WAHHH!! HE MUST BE THINKING THAT I'M REALLY CHILDISH...UUUUUU~)

"Erm, how should I put it. You two look interesting, and very cute."

Perhaps seeing that both of them were giggling, Ichika looked happy as he said that.

""Cu-Cute...""

Laura and Charlotte muttered in unison.

And then they blushed. They continued to remember and replay what Ichika said as they silently sat on the bed.

"Oh yeah, I just went out today, so I got gifts for you."

Saying that, Ichika pulled out a cookie bag with a large @Cruise symbol on it.

""!?""

Both of them remembered how they looked when they were working and started dripping cold sweat.

(Wer-Were we seen by Ichika? At a time when I wasn't like a girl at all!)

(W-Wa-Was I seen!? When I was in that fluttery dress!?)

Ichika's words became lost to them, as both of them covered their faces because they remembered their work today. They even thought of going crazy.

"Also, when I went to that @Cruise shop, there were a bunch of police and media, so I went in thinking that it was something. Then I saw that lively female shopkeeper giving cookies to the customers involved in the incident. She probably thought that I was one of them and gave one bag to me. I wanted to clarify, but she disappeared. It seemed that she was running around, saying that the main office would come over to investigate or something like that. It's strange, isn't it?"

"Uu, yeah, that-that's right?"

"What-What incident?"

Laura's secretly praying that he may have went to another shop. It was her last hope, but it didn't happen.

"There were bank robbers, I guess. It's been really messy recently."

""...""

"Then, I heard the reporters saying that some bishoujo maid and bishounen butler dealt with it smoothly. It really felt like something that would happen in movies or serials."

"That-That's right."

"Ye-Yeah."

"But since they're so great, I really want to see them..."

Both of them jumped on hearing his words. Maybe they thought too much, but they did feel that the cat ears on their pajamas straightened as well.

(Uu...but I knew I should have put on that maid outfit...)

(But I don't have the guts to say that it's us...)

Both of them harbored such thoughts, and missed the chance to admit it.

"I'll brew tea. Want some cookies?"

Saying that, Ichika walked towards the simple kitchen in the room.

"Ah, no need! I'll prepare it, just sit down, Ichika."

"Hm? But your hands can't do it now, right?"

On hearing Ichika's words, Charlotte and Laura realized that they're still wearing cat paws.

"These are cocoa cookies. And now that we have two kittens, want some hot milk?"

"Huh, ah, yeah!"

"We-We'll leave it to you then."

Both of them blushed as they were called 'kittens', and could only blush and nod their heads.

"The-Then, Ichika, are these clothes, cute?"

Charlotte couldn't help but ask, and even after asking, she couldn't help but fiddle with her fingers nervously.

"Yeah, I find them cute. One black and one white made it cuter. It really matches you two."

"I-I see. Ehehe, it suits me, ha, ufufu."

"Since, since you say so...then, it's not a bad thing to wear this once in a while."

Both of them were embarrassed and excited. Soon, Ichika quickly served up the hot milk and cookies.

It was a summer night, but they were drinking hot milk. The trio held a secret tea party.

An inexplicable tea party with a black cat, a white cat, and a prince.



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