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Infinite Stratos Volume 4 Chapter 4: Lovesick Quintet

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Chapter 4: A Quintet Causing Trouble in LoveEdit

Seeing that doorplate, her heart started to beat furiously.

'Orimura' was written on it. Charlotte read it a few times, and took a deep breath.

(It's OK, it's OK...Ichika said that he'd be at home today, so I won't cause any trouble.)

Charlotte wasn't in the IS Academy's hallways now, but on the street. She hesitantly stared at the intercom below the 'Orimura' doorplate, and the sun's rays relentlessly sprinkled on her blond hair.

(Hu-Ha—today's sun is really strong.....hey! It's not the time to think about that right now.)

While she was thinking about all sorts of things, her finger was going forth and back in front of the button but couldn't press it.

After hesitating a long time, a voice suddenly resounded.

"Huh? Charl? What is it?"

"Fueey?"

Rather abruptly, a voice came from behind, and Charlotte, embarrassed at a 120%, rapidly turned her head.

The one standing behind her carrying shopping bags was Ichika.

"Ah, Ah, that! T-Today's sun is really bright—NO!"

"?"

"T-T-That...."

Charlotte, panicking, couldn't say a single word, and started searching in her brain at full strength, full mobilization of the 256 Charlotte-chan.

"Ca..."

"Ca?"

"I've come over to play♪"

Hehe, after that she filled her face with a smile—though after the words left her mouth, she felt extreme remorse.

(U-U-Uwaaaa. I'm so stupid, I'm so stupid!)

"Is it? Then come in. Though I can't give you a huge welcome."

"I-Is that so? Then I can come in?"

"Of course you can. I obviously can't make you go back--ah, you are free for a bit, aren't you?"

"Y-Yeah. I am! Of course I am! I'm entirely free."

Facing a response that furious, Ichika couldn't help but to step back.

Seeing Ichika's reaction, Charlotte's face became immediately red.

"It's, it's...fine."

"Haha. What a weird one~OK, please enter, the door is open."

"Hn, Hn."

Submissively nodding, Charlotte was thinking inside her head the 'what a weird one~' Ichika said, and couldn't help but to think of hiding herself in a hole.

Though after this bit of vacillation, she quickly entered, rejoicing on the thought of entering Ichika's home.

(This, this is Ichika's home....)

After thinking this far, Charlotte discovered that it was her first time entering a boy's house, and the heartbeat indicator shot up in a straight line.

"By the way, today's really hot, please sit for a moment, I'll go fetch some drinks."

"Hn, hn, thank you."

While saying this, she sat on the sofa, and started looking everywhere.

Ichika's home looks like some normal homes, being a style where the living room is close to the kitchen. There were medieval goods bought by Chifuyu-nee everywhere. Though the things weren't new, under Ichika's care, there wasn't a single speck of dust on them.

(That's impressive, it seems that when Ichika said he was good at housework, he wasn't lying.)

When she was little, at her elementary school in France, there were also many boys who wanted to become like that.

To be honest, Charlotte also really likes people like that.

(Ichika will quickly become the househusband......hehe, househusband.)

After saying this, for some reason she suddenly thought of her life after marriage. She immediately blushed due to the embarrassment, and showed an indistinct expression.

"Here, barley tea."

Ah!?

"Since it was made this morning, the taste is still a bit light, though I think it should be OK."

"Hn, hn, thank you."

Being sucked in her fantasy, Charlotte was suddenly called back to reality, and was scared by Ichika's presence right beside her. She immediately drank the tea to cover her panic.

Indeed the barley tea's taste is a bit light, but to Charlotte, everything is OK, since she's in a state where she's too nervous to taste anything.

(Now, I am, with I-Ichika, the two of us alone, the two of us alone....)

The speed of her heartbeats immediately increased.

(I need to talk about something....that, that.....)

*Ding-dong*

"Oh, it's probably the delivery service, I'll go out for a bit."

"A-Alright."

Ichika stood up and walked from the corridor to the door, as Charlotte took a deep breath.

After all, being anxious won't help in anything, being calm and think of some topic to discuss is the way.

(By the way, I don't know what Ichika likes, I'll ask him later then.)

Going back ten minutes before--

"It's here, no problem."

After checking numerous times with her navigation function included cellphone, Cecilia finally arrived in front of the doorplate.

Seeing the two large characters 'Ori-mura', she quickly checked that she had arrived at her destination. [4D 1]

(Hu, hu, hu. Today I received information about where Ichika-san lives from the class' intelligence network. It also means that if I pay a visit, we'd be alone in our world! Indeed, it would be our own world--)

Thinking of what might happen, a layer of red was added on Cecilia's cheeks.

(It-It's certain, that, that in that atmosphere, the two of us alone.....)

For some reason, she started to imagine the scene where she's alone with Ichika, and what would follow it. Her cheeks became even redder.

"Can I? Cecilia, I love you the most."

"Ah, that kind of thing......no, I-I am not prepared for this."

"Be it the body or the mind, I have taken all precautions."

"Aaah......"

(Something like that, something like that!)

As her cellphone suddenly started to vibrate, Cecilia was taken out of her delusions to reality, in front of the interphone.

(I must first adjust my tone......*cough*.)

After coughing twice, Cecilia leant her hand towards the button.

*Ding-dong*. Ten seconds after the electrical ring resounded, the door in front of her face opened.

"I'm coming.....Huh, it's Cecilia."

"He-Hello. Are you doing fine, these days? Ichika-san, I just happened to not have anything important to do, so I wanted to come pay a visit here."

Even though it's still the same tone and the same calm attitude as always, the world inside her is already shaking wildly.

(Being casual like this and that different from normal.......that, he looks very cool. Today I've put my special perfume on, Hn, just in case!)

"Is that right? Then please come in."

"What, great! Of course! Ah, that, this is a cake made in a reportedly great bakery."

"Oh, oh, thank you~ please come in and take a cup of tea."

Cecilia, who was in reality excited to only enter Ichika's home, changed into the slippers, and entered the living room.

"Charl, Cecilia's here."

"Huh?"

"Huh?"

Without being prepared for it, Charlotte and Cecilia met each other. The two of them started to quickly analyze the current situation.

Especially Cecilia, who just placed her boots in the vestibule, seems she would be unable to say anything even if she wanted to, her mouth opening and closing.

"We'll eat the cake together in a moment, Oh, it's exactly three pieces. Though since it's too hot today, we'll cool it before eating it, so please wait a moment."

"Huh, oh, OK....."

After hearing something like 'please sit', Cecilia and Charlotte sat near each other.

"......"

"......"

Since there was no way to say anything, the silence continued to extend.

There were only some snapping sounds coming out of the kitchen, the sound of tableware being moved.

"It's, it's really a coincidental meeting, Charlotte-san."

"You're, you're right. It's really a coincidence, Cecilia."

Ufufu, ahaha, the two of them started to laugh dumbly.

""...............""

After that, the silence continued.

(Why, Why would Charlotte be here.....!? Could it be that she wants to take the lead?)

(Uuuu, why did you come here, Cecilia.....a world in which two people are alone is difficult to obtain, aaah..if only I had started the operation sooner....)

The two different blond-haired young girls sat there admiring the beautiful view, a painter or a photographer who hadn't seen Ichika's house would surely regret it.

"Sorry for the wait, which piece of cake do you want?"

Ichika took the iced red tea along with the cake Cecilia brought as a present, and they were a strawberry cake, a cheese cake and a pear tart.

"Since Cecilia was the one who bought it, please choose."

While saying that, Ichika took a chair from the kitchen for his own use.

((He clearly could come here and sit on the sofa....))

That's true. Four people can sit on the sofa, Ichika only needed to sit beside her.

However, the guests' beautiful illusions have been shattered mercilessly by Ichika.

"That, which one does Cecilia want?"

Ichika was giving out the plates to the two of them, while sharing the iced red tea.

The hot water cooled quickly as it entered in contact with the ice, and the ice cubes were rolling, making a light noise.

"Y-You are right, then, I'll choose the tart."

"Hn, OK. How about Charlotte?"

While putting the tart on a little plate and giving it to Cecilia, Ichika asked Charlotte, and it seemed that he had naturally put himself as the last one.

"I-Ichika, please choose first, I'll choose last."

"Don't say that, that would be poor manners for a host."

After sitting for a while, and starting to become a bit sleepy, Charlotte started to attentively choose after being urged by Ichika.

"Then, I'll choose the strawberry one."

"Is that right? Take it, here."

"Th-Thanks, that, and Cecilia, thank you."

"Don't, please don't be that polite."

Facing Cecilia, who smiled as an answer to her, Charlotte suddenly felt embarrassed for having come empty-handed.

(Since, my head was filled by the thoughts of Ichika's home, I didn't have time to think of anything else.....)

After giving an excuse to herself, Charlotte decided to not blame herself for that.

(Aaah, though, would I be viewed as a rude girl.....Uuuu, maybe I already seem as one. Ah!? Is, Is it possible that I look too childish by choosing the strawberry one....it, it's OK, I guess....)

As Charlotte was still tangled by this, Ichika and Cecilia had already started.

"What is it? You don't want it?"

"What!? Ah, no, it's not it, itadakimasu."

With a fork, she took a little piece and placed it in her mouth, and the moderate wetness started to immediately flow, feeling the cream in her mouth being spread. Normal sponge cakes only enter the mouth and melt.

"Wow, it's delicious.....this, where did you buy it?"

"It's from the 'Lip Trick' in the underground shopping center in front of the station, and since I'm lucky today I got to buy it. Usually there are so many people that it's impossible to buy one."

After hearing Cecilia's words, she felt a little guilty.

Cecilia probably wanted to share it alone with Ichika, Charlotte thought.

"Hn, this really isn't bad, there's no way it could be done at home."

"Even though Ichika is good at cooking, this cake isn't made easily. Lip Trick's chef has already won a worldwide prize."

Ehe, after Cecilia let out those self-boasting words, Ichika's reaction is 'Oohh'.

"Then how about this, how about the three of us share with each other, Charlotte and Cecilia. That way we can have a taste of all three of them."

"Wha? That, it......"

"The, the three of us....share?"

The two of them stopped their hands mid-air, and turned towards Ichika for the meaning of this. Thus Ichika was nodding to show his certitude.

"Absolutely."

""............!!""

The expression of the two of them instantly lit, and for a moment, it seemed that the divine light had shone upon them.

"Ah, though giving you something has a boy has already eaten wouldn't be good--"

"It won't! I just happen to need no matter what to taste the cheese cake!"

"Indeed, I also want to taste it."

After a brief eye-contact the British-French alliance was made, with Charlotte and Cecilia shaking hands inside their heads, with the 'Congratulations!' flag flowing on the sky.

"So, then, Ichika-kun, the cake..."

"Yeah, you're right, I really want to eat it."

The two of them look like little birds crying for food who opened their mouths, though there's a mix of shyness and hesitation in those two young girls' head, but they still opened their mouths.

Then, in order to deal with their racing heartbeats, the two of them clenched their fists together, like princesses waiting for their prince.

"Then, Cecilia, —Aaa-n. "

File:IS v04 211.jpg

Though, he's really wooden-headed. Ichika didn't even sense the subtle change of atmosphere, and took his fork to cut another part and fed it again to Cecilia's mouth.

"Ah, um....."

While eating the cake and suppressing her heartbeats, Cecilia couldn't even perceive the taste. Her heart was beating so fast that she had trouble breathing.

"How is it?"

"It's, it's tasty, it isn't bad..... Fufu. ♪"

Not due to the cake's taste, but due to what happened just before the action, Cecilia couldn't resist a smile.

"It's, it's my turn."

"Oh, OK, OK, ——Here, Aaa—n."

"Hn...."

While the little piece of cheese cake was rolling on her tongue, Charlotte closed her eyes to feel that wonderful feeling. .......Of course, it was the feeling coming from her own heart.

To be fed directly by Ichika, it's already the second time. Though this time, the feeling is even stronger than before, by the way, it should be because Charlotte's frame of mind had changed.

"It's, it's really tasty. I like it."

Of course what she likes was certainly something else.

"Then I'll also eat a piece of it."

As Ichika began to prepare to take a piece for himself, he was immediately stopped by a sharp sound.

"Wait!"

"According to etiquette, you cannot not return something in exchange, hn."

"Hn, is that so? If you want it then do as you wish."

"Yes, yes, it's pretty obvious."

"This cake is really tasty, fufu♪"

While laughing giddily as they cut their own cakes, Charlotte and Cecilia took their piece of cake near Ichika's mouth.

""Here, Aaaa—n""

Facing two different cakes at the same time, Ichika was perplexed. At the end, he ate in the same order as before, eating Cecilia's first. The pear tart's sourness and sweetness in his mouth was incredibly delicious, and to add the cool jam put on the outside. The feeling of the food and its taste, it was impossible to determine which was better.

And after taking a mouthful of red tea to swallow the remaining cake in his mouth, he ate Charlotte's.

"This cake is really good ♪."

"Uh, indeed. Next time I'll go buy it."

The two girls were discussing in great delight, and at the same time took some red tea.

For some reason, they were hiding their mouths, scared that Ichika would see that girly façade.

"By the way, you two really came early, it's not even ten yet."

"Huuh, yeah. Ichika said before that he wakes up very early, so I thought that coming in the morning wouldn't be a bother."

"Hn? Though it's not like I mind, since it is summer vacation, why don't you go play somewhere with your friends?"

"It's fine, it's fine, the others already had something in their schedule, there's a day where I would be free."

"It's really, really a coincidence. I am also in the same situation, I just happened to be free today ."

"Fuu—n, so it's like that."

In fact, these two had already pushed aside all engagements for today, but would keep it as a secret until the end, since to abandon their friends to go to a boy's home isn't something wonderful to say in these two's minds.

(How, how can I say it, that....Usually I'm not the kind of girl who pays more attention to a lover than to a friend.....)

(Though I don't know what Ichika would say, I would probably be looked as a shameless girl.....)

Thus, these two simply used 'it's an unusual and coincidental free day' as an excuse to dodge the question.

"Then, what should we do, there isn't anything to play with at home, how about going outside?"

"No, no need! It's so hot outside, so let's stay at home!"

"Y-Yeah, that, for some reason I want to see Ichika's room for a bit.....like this."

"My room? It doesn't bother me if you just look around."

From the conversation above, we can see that Charlotte and Cecilia, aside being IS pilots, are also typical maidens. It's really interesting for them to see the room of the person they like.

"Hn, OK, though why are you two so excited about it?"

"That's not the case!"

"That's right!"

"I-Is that right?...."

Facing a slightly strong opposing tone, Ichika withdrew.

"Then, let's go to my room, ah, it's on the second floor."

The two of them nodded in an imposing manner and started taking large steps, behind Ichika.

His room was pretty normal, with a 90° corner. Cecilia saw for the first time a room like this, and felt clearly that it was much smaller than her home.

(For some reason, I find it really interesting, and feel that it would be hard to transport a whole tea set.)

Charlotte felt nostalgic, remembering that when she moved to her father's, she felt like this when she started living with his mother.

(As I thought I still can't feel accustomed to luxury, it still feels more comfortable being in a place like this.)

"Right, here's Chifuyu-nee's room, please be careful not to go in, or you'll be killed."

"Ah, so, it's like that...."

"I, I see. I'm interested in where Chifuyu-sensei lives, however..."

Ahahaha, the two of them started laughing stupidly.

Ever since what happened with Chifuyu-nee during the water camp, they felt even closer to her.

"Even if it's like that, she's in fact a good person."

Those heavy words, pierced everyone's heart on the scene and hurt slightly.

(Ichika wants to see Chifuyu-sensei as a sister, so he would say this....)

(Uu—yeah......as I thought, having Orimura-sensei as a rival, it's far from easy.)

Haa, the two of them sighed deeply, and Ichika couldn't help but turn towards them.

"What is it? As I thought, you don't want to come?"

"No! Isn't it said in the old texts something like "Nothing ventured, nothing gained."?"

"Indeed, you may as well eat the poisoned plate?"[4D 2]

"???"

Receiving this kind of answers, Ichika opened the door with a confused expression on his face.

"It isn't a very big room, so please enter."

"So-Sorry for intruding."

"Pardon for the intrusion..."

While their hearts were beating wildly, Charlotte and Cecilia entered the room. The window in front of them was letting some dazzling rays pass by, and the assailing odor of a boy's body suddenly smelled good. The two of them forcefully sniffed a bit.

"Ah, my room doesn't have any chairs, so please sit on the bed."

((On the b-bed!?))

While their hearts were beating non-stop, an electric sound was emitted from the front door.

*Ding-dong*.

"Hn? Who's there? I'll go see."

While saying this, Ichika went down the stairs.

".................."

".................."

Charlotte and Cecilia, who were left in the room, looked around but didn't move.

(This, this is Ichika's bed....)

(As I thought, it's different than the one from the dorms, hn....)

As the two of them were thinking about all sorts of things, the sounds of the stairs came to them.

"Cecilia, Charl, come down for a bit."

""Eh?""

After staying for less than ten minutes, Cecilia and Charlotte let out a surprised unhappy voice.

"Wh-What is it?"

"Please wait a moment."

"No, that..."

Before he even finished, there was the sound of someone going upstairs.

"Ichika, what is it......Ah."

The one who pushed the door open was Rin.

Rin, who came countless times during elementary school and Junior High, knew Ichika's house from top to bottom, and she didn't even hesitate to push Ichika's room door open.

Although when she saw the two of them unexpectedly, her movements instantly froze.

"What, what does this mean! You two!"

Her blood rose to her head as she started shouting, and that voice had been heard by people on the first floor, and they also shouted towards the second floor.

"What is it? Why did you shout in such a loud voice?"

"Did you find people in an ambush?"

The ones who responded, were Houki and Laura.

With things developing to this point, Cecilia and Charlotte could only abandon the idea of 'expanding themselves'.

"Still, you guys didn't give me a heads up beforehand."

"You're fine, since you are free the entire morning anyway."

"Is that right?? What is it? You are bothered by the fact that we suddenly came? You want to hide your ero-books?."

While eating soba as lunch, Houki and Rin answered him. Since there were so many people, they could only hand-make some wheat food as lunch.

"I, I was too busy, after all I have been held up in the cake shop for that long."

"So-Sorry. I'll pay attention next time."

Charlotte and Cecilia who were putting the wasabi on the noodles also answered. In fact, everyone basically thought of 'Coming over♪' and then acted, and every girl there understood fully each other on that point.

"To say something random, were you happy by the surprise of me coming over?"

After drinking the noodle soup, Laura said it like this.

(What an admirable self-confidence....)

The other four girls thought of the same thing at that time.

"Then what should we do in the afternoon? Should everyone stay at home? Though I think going outside would be better."

Keke, everyone was thinking of something different while nodding.

(I specially came to Ichika's home for the day he returns.)

(What's good in going outside, stupid!)

(Why isn't there a single bit of smooth progress until now.)

(I still haven't asked what Ichika's interests are.)

(Instructor Orimura will come at night, I'm interested.)

As everyone was calculating in their minds, Houki, Rin, Cecilia, Charlotte and Laura finished eating.

"I'll tidy and then pour you some tea, so please wait a moment."

"Ah, then I'll also go."

"Hn? Is that okay? Then please, even though you are a guest. Please help me put the table in order."

"Uhn♪! Understood."

As always, Charlotte found once again an opportunity to participate, stood up and started tidying.

After that, feeling a crisis coming, Rin and Cecilia also stood up.

"I-I'll help too."

"Usually, I wouldn't do this, but I'll make an exception and help you."

"There's no need, no matter what, four people is too much, Rin and Cecilia, please rest."

"Mu......"

"B-But."

The two of them swallowed their words even if they wanted to say anything, and to not create an opposite effect, didn't insist and could only return to sitting on the sofa.

The four people sitting on the sofa were Rin, Cecilia, Charlotte and Laura, while Ichika and Houki were sitting on the floor's cushions.

"Can I wash these?"

"Sure, and don't forget the dish detergent, but I feel kind of bad letting you clean up."

"Its nothing, it's nothing, I am good in doing this, or to say......I like it."

Though Charlotte still couldn't say 'I like you' or something like that, so she could only strike sideways.

(Ehehe, it feels as if we were newlyweds......)

The other four were looking at the happy Charlotte.

(Muu......as I thought, Charlotte is a strong rival.)

(Ah-Uu-, I'm completely left behind.)

(I should use Charlotte's method as a reference.)

(Fu, that kid, one can't be too careless around her.)

After Charlotte finished helping, it was time to make tea, and fifteen minutes later, everyone gathered next to the table.

"As I thought, a cup of tea after lunch is needed. Ha—, I feel great."

Who would mind drinking hot tea in the middle of summer, though that's Ichika's mentality. Cold tea before the meal, and hot tea after.

"Then what should we do now, how about playing some sort of game?"

"Hm, I thought of that much, so I specially took this with me, here."

While saying this, Rin took out a paper bag, and there were social games like Poker, Hanafuda, Monopoly and some different other games.[4D 3]


"Oh—so Rin likes things like this."

"Of course, since I can win."

Fufun—said Rin, though that was because she's pretty bad at video games.

"So let's play these, do you guys want to play that?"

While Ichika was saying this, the others were coming to see the things in the bag.

"Aside from Japanese games, there are others."

"Ah, what I want to play, is that materials-buying game."

"Oh, so that is Japan's Hanafuda, it doesn't look too bad. Next time I go back to my country, I'll buy some and take them back."

"I want to play Shogi[4D 4], but it seems that it can only be played with two players."

Facing those different games, the girls started to discuss enthusiastically. Seeing that kind of scene, and remembering being just as enthusiastic in the past with Rin, Ichika couldn't help but think of those days in Junior High.

"So everyone, let's decide what to play."

After saying that, Ichika took out a game called Barbarossa.[4D 5]

"Hau, I want to play a German game."

Raising her Germany flag to her chest and carefully examining it, Laura let out a rare happy expression.

"So what should we play, in the end?"

"How about playing the quiz game made of clay?"

"Hn? How do we play that? Who's the one who moulds better?"

"It's not like that. It's actually the opposite, since if you mould too well, it would be too easy to recognize, so it should be a bit indistinct to make it as a quiz."

"Hnn? Isn't it disadvantageous if it's too ugly?

"This depends on the questions. Guess an answer, and confirm it by questioning. The questioning concerning the modeling is the crucial point in the game."

After the experienced Rin explained the rules with Ichika, the game began.

*Konekonekonekone......*

"Finished."

"Then, start."

Charlotte rolled the dice, and the game begun.

"That, one, two, three."

"Ah, it's the gem."

"Yes, so it's my turn to ask. Good, then I'll question Laura about her clay modeling."

"I understand."

"Oh yeah, and the answer can only be 'yes', 'no' or 'I don't know', and the questioning continues until there's a 'no' answered."

Hearing Rin's explanation, Houki nodded slightly, and started to examine Laura's model.

That model is a pyramid-shaped imposing object that looked still. Though not only no one knew, except Laura, everyone had on their face a 'what the heck is that' expression.

"Is it something on earth?"

"Um."

"OK...... Is it bigger than a human?"

"Yes."

It means that, it isn't some tool or anything of that sort, but even if it's bigger than a man, no one can tell what this is.

"Is it in a city?"

"How can I say it, you can say that it could be, but it's also OK to say that it is not."

This answer gave everyone a headache, and since everyone thought that it could have been the Tokyo Tower, this answer made everyone get mad.

"Is it man-made?"

"NO!"

"OK, my questioning ended, so it's Houki's turn to answer, isn't it?"

"U-Um, anyway, even if I'm wrong points won't be deducted, so I'll answer."

In a formal game you need to write it on a paper and show it to the author, though this time was only a trial, so Rin changed the rules a bit, so everyone could share the information.

"Then, what is the answer?"

"AN OILFIELD!"

*Subishi!*, Houki, who held out the object in question, answered.

"Wrong."

Houki answered with her head lowered, and including Ichika, every other player showed a 'why would it be an oilfield' expression of dismay.

The game still continued and it had already passed the halfway point.

"If there's still no correct answer, the one who made that thing won't have any points either."

By the way, what Charlotte did had been immediately guessed, so she didn't get any points. And on the other hand, the advancing team's model had the Barbarossa characteristic, it was invincible in terms of 'it can be whatever you want'.

In the middle of the explanation, the author and the one answering can get points.

So incidentally, Houki's model is a 'well', and Charlotte answered at the best possible moment.

Then, the last battle opposes two strong people, Laura to Cecilia.

While Laura's is that pyramid, Cecilia's looked like an intriguing cell.

File:IS v04 231.jpg

"This, is it food?"

"It isn't."

"Is that thing really small?"

"No, it's very, very big."

Having their models figured out, Houki and Charlotte violently questioned Laura and Cecilia on their models with deadly intentions, but Laura's model was impossible to solve.

So finally, the game could only end.

"Then, Laura, what is that thing?"

The one questioning was Ichika, who has been holding back for long.

"Huh? Even you do not know? You are really a failure as my bride."

"What, anyways...what is the answer?"

"A mountain."

............

"What?"

"A mountain."

"No, no, wait, WAIT! Is there a mountain that acute?"

"Jeez......how rude. Mount Everest is like that."

"But it only limits to the Mount Everest!"

"Except Mount Everest, there are only mountains like this."

Full of confidence of her modeling, Laura wouldn't let go.

"Fine, fine, since no one answered right to Laura's model, so I'll take points out! Next, what is Cecilia's?"

"Ara. No one got the answer?"

If anyone had got it, he/she would have answered! Though they thought of saying this, they didn't say it loud.

Cecilia started making her show-off posture, lifted her right hand, made a circle in the air and said.

"It's my motherland, the UK!"

"""............"""

Everyone fell into silence. By the way, what everyone guessed before were 'rotten potato', 'unicellular substance', 'decomposed pizza', 'seaweed', 'piece of cloth worn out', 'injured dog' and 'wet cat'.

"Really, I don't need everyone to be touched like this, I recommend you to look at the world map once per day."

'Who would know what UK's form would look like!', was what everyone wanted to answer, but fell into silence. Seeing Cecilia having even more confidence in her modeling than Laura, so it made everyone have a 'want to throw a tsukkomi at her silliness'. [4D 6]

"A-Anyways, everyone should approximately know what the rules are! Then Ichika and I will enter too, so let's play together!"

The six of them gathered in front of the table, and started modeling once again.

Although the clay model made before needed to be destroyed, Charlotte's horse was so great that destroying it would give a feeling of pity. Ichika took it in his own hands looked at it and said.

"By the way, Charlotte's hands are really skillful......don't you think that at this level, it could be used as an ornament?"


"It-It's nothing. I only added four legs to it."

"No, no. Even though it has been guessed wrongly by some others, this doesn't look like a donkey, neither does it look like a camel! As expected from Charlotte."

"Ah, thank you......"

The other four girls watched the embarrassed Charlotte from the shadows, and thought unconvincingly 'why is Charlotte the only one to be praised'.

Especially Houki, Cecilia and Laura, who were all fully confident about their models, didn't get praised by Ichika, and thus, were so angry that their cheeks were puffing up.

"Rin, since you can't tell if it's a dumpling, a meat bun or a shaomai, it's not allowed."

"Ho-How rude, it's a peach!"

"Huh, it's a peach......doesn't the shape go too much against common sense?"

"How noisy! Don't you know only how to make Dongpo pork."[4D 7]

"Ah......what are you talking about, did you know that I can do three layers properly? Even Dan could see it."

"That is because you always eat Dongpo pork every noon!"

Facing those two having an animated discussion about their days in Junior High, the other people looked at them with envy; but the past is the past, and it cannot be changed, so after reflecting on that point, it was decided that the thoughts should be on the future.

As time passed by, the second round started.

"I know, that's Kamaboko!"[4D 8]

"It is not! Please try harder."

"What Laura made......is it a human......?"

"It's not, why can't you guess right? The model is fantastic."

"I know it this time, Cecilia, what you're modeling is a tomato, isn't it?"

"Houki-san, does it look like a tomato?"

The atmosphere was really lively, so much that time passed quickly.

Though after 4 PM, an unexpected person appeared.

"What, I thought that it was too lively, so it was you guys, huh."

In front of their eyes was Chifuyu-nee.

She was wearing casual clothes, a white shirt and a pair of jeans, and it was showing her personality. The sleeveless black shirt underneath her clothes was covering her voluminous chest.

"Welcome back, Chifuyu-nee."

"Aaah, I'm home."

Ichika immediately stood up, and walked towards Chifuyu-nee, and took the bag on her right shoulder, giving the impression that he's a butler.

"Did you eat at lunch? If you didn't I'll cook some rice, what dishes do you want to eat?"

"Stupid, what time do you think it is? I've already eaten it."

"Is that so......ah, what kind of tea do you want to drink? Hot or iced, which one?"

"You're kind of right......I just came from outside, so I want to drink iced——"

At that point of her sentence, Chifuyu suddenly felt an oppressive aura from the students. It was envy towards Chifuyu on how she gets treated by Ichika.

"......No, there's no need, I'll go outdoors in a moment, I have some work."

"Huh? So it's like that......but the coffee jelly that was frozen in the morning should be eatable, I guess."

"Next time then. So, I'll go change my clothes."

"Ah! The shirt and other clothes are already out. I have taken the autumn clothes in Chifuyu-nee's bag, so don't forget them!"

"I know it."

Oh jeez, this guy seems like a good mother, was what Chifuyu thought, but she didn't say it.

Though the girls felt 'What, they look like a husband and his wife', but no one said it out loud, and even if they commented on it, they would only deepen their trouble.

*Badam!* Following the door sound, Chifuyu left the living room; thinking that they could finally breathe normally, the girls let out a deep breath.

"Just as always, you really like to stick to Chifuyu-san."

"Huh? Is it? Well, it's normal, since we're siblings."

"Is it? Probably only you think like that."

After seeing Chifuyu's appearance——or perhaps rather Ichika's approach towards Chifuyu, Rin's speech was full of sarcasm.

At the same time, Ichika's other childhood friend, Houki, who since long ago thought that they were really close to each other, always felt some things that couldn't be said, swirling around in her mind.

(......Has Ichika's sister complex gone worse......)

Thinking about the matter a month before, Cecilia's and Charlotte's mood got worse.

(Does Orimura-sensei only look at him as a younger brother......?)

(That, that's probably not it, huh? Something like a world by themselves, two people having a crush on each other......there should be none of that, should it?)

Laura, who thought of what happened before and that she could get over it once again, felt an abnormally jealous feeling different from before.

(Muu......that disgraceful Ichika is clearly my wife......but the Instructor——no, even if it's the Instructor, my wife can't be good to anyone, besides me. It's really troublesome, but......Muuu......)

Everyone's thoughts fell silent, and the atmosphere in the living room became heavy.

"Huh? That? What's that! What is it?"

"......Coffee jelly."

"Hn."

"Take out the coffee jelly right now! How troublesome, you didn't take out a snack past 3 O'clock, I'm angry now!"

"Why would you be angry, doesn't Rin technically hate coffee?"

"I love coffee jelly!"

"Huuh? Didn't you say before that you didn't want......"

"I just happened to love it! I started loving it these days, so do you have an objection?"

"No, I don't have any......"

Ichika felt like a gentleman cornered and wanting to escape from Rin, and Houki took this opportunity to speak out.

"Um! That......it happens that, I also like to eat coffee jelly......"

"Wha?"

"P-Please let me taste it!"

Since she was embarrassed of it, Houki let go of Ichika's arm, and Laura took this opportunity to say.

"Taste it......oh yeah, I also need to taste it! You don't want the instructor to eat something strange, do you?"

"Y-Yeah? What is it, Laura?"

"I said that I want to help you taste it, take it out."

Cecilia and Charlotte also expressed themselves.

"R-Right! Please let me taste it......"

"Th-Then me too, I'll......"

"H-Hey, Hey, even Charl too......if it's not good then don't blame me, OK?"

Ichika, who didn't have a choice, could only stand up, and go to the kitchen so that he could take out the coffee jelly from the fridge.

"Since there are exactly six, it's just enough......though that way Chifuyu-nee's part would be gone."

"Didn't Chifuyu-nee say that she would eat it next time?"

"You're not wrong......Ye-ah."

Facing those girls who were prepared to succeed, Ichika, who was still bothered, wanted to say something, but suddenly the door opened.

"So, are you having an argument? As long as you're in this house, then you need to get along."

Chifuyu was wearing a suit——and those of the same gender as her felt that she had a devilish figure, and that they couldn't say anything.

And with that calm expression she went to the front door, ready to go outside.

"Ichika, today I won't get back, so you can do whatever you want! However, the girls can't stay overnight."

And with the explanation that 'There aren't enough beds', she left the living room.

"Is there some important work? Ye-ah......then it can't be helped."

While saying this, Ichika put the coffee jelly on the table, and sat with everyone.

"Since Chifuyu-nee likes it with a strong coffee taste, if you guys need some milk, you can serve yourselves; also I didn't put any sugar in it, so I prepared some syrup."

After everyone took all they needed, they started eating slowly.

Cecilia and Laura, who were thinking at the beginning of eating the bitter black coffee jelly[4D 9] tended their hands towards the syrup and the milk.

"Fu, it's pretty good."

"You're clearly a guy, and still can do sweets? That's really surprising."

"Is it possible that Ichika knows how to make cakes?"

"Hn~I only know how to make some easy sponge cake——it's only the type of cake where you mix the fruits and milk."

"It sounds delicious, when can you try making one?"

"When I have the opportunity."

"Instructor eats your handmade food every day, I'm envious."

"This isn't something really impressive. Aah, right, until what time will you girls stay? If you stay until the evening, then if I don't go to buy ingredients right now——"

After hearing Ichika saying those words, the girls' eyes started to sparkle.

"I'll cook the rice for the evening! I'll do this as a special thanks for today's coffee jelly."

"Yeah, I still haven't showed my skills yet!"

"Then, then I'll also help with it."

"I'll also participate. When I was in the army, I learnt how to cook, so look forward to it!"

"By the way, you haven't eaten my cooking in a while, so you should be yearning for that taste, aren't you?"

No, I'm not——thinking of Cecilia's silliness, Ichika looked at the clock.


"Then I'll go out around 5 o'clock. There's a store near here, so I'll go there to buy things."

Everyone started to talk with each other. After eating the jelly they continued on chatting......like this, time passed quickly.

"Sorry for making you wait."

The one who was gasping and arriving at the underground bar between a store and the train station——was Yamada-sensei, Yamada Maya.

That bar's open hours were from four in the afternoon to eight in the morning, and its name was 'Bar Crescendo'. It was a bar full of adults who came in contact with each other, and also where Chifuyu was often welcomed.

"I'm sorry, calling you out in a rush like that."

"It's fine, it's fine. Anyway, if I stay at my room I'll only look at the shopping catalog."

Maya sat near the counter, and Chifuyu immediately asked the owner for a cup of normal beer with black beer mixed together——of course it was for Maya.

"Does Chifuyu-san also want to try something new?"

"Yeah, sorry for bothering you."

"I got it."

That bar was managed by a sole aged owner——with his beard and his white hair pulled back, his appearance was attracting many female customers.

Though Chifuyu didn't really like the owner, but she was more attracted by his soothing voice.

"Please help yourself."

The owner took out Maya's beer and Chifuyu's black beer, and then took out slices of cheese for the clients, but placed them while being at a bit of distance from them——after many years of experience, he knew that there's no way to have a good chat with people who he isn't familiar with.

"Cheers."

The sound of two glass cups coming into contact resounded. Maya took little sips, while Chifuyu was joyfully savoring it slowly, the cup tilted a bit.

After drinking around half of the content, Maya asked a question.

"What is it today? Isn't it vacation time, so why don't you go home?"

"I was thinking of doing so, but there are girls at home right now."

"Girls? Oooh——could they be Ichika's friends?

"Aaah, yes, and also our students——to phrase it another way, they are all familiar faces."

"You mean the six personal machine users? They would all be strong in a war."

"Don't joke with it."

While saying that and smiling, Chifuyu ate a slice of cheese.

"Wouldn't Orimura-sensei be bothered by it? If your little brother has a girlfriend."

"You're kinda right......"

The beer was just finished, so Chifuyu asked for another cup from the owner.

After she finished her fourth in a shot, Chifuyu continued and said,

"Last month, did something happen at the sea-side school?"

"Huhh, yeah, concerning that I still remember that......many things happened."

"Maa, putting aside the Gospel story first......I feel that I said things that I shouldn't have said at that time."

"......What did you say?"

Maya asked her with her interest showing. This was the first time that she had seen her so hesitant, so what could be the reason? She was interested to the maximum.

"I said to those five girls..."

"Yes."

"I said 'I won't let you have Ichika'."

"......What?"

Maya, who had been surprised, asked back, since it was rare that Chifuyu would be embarrassed and have much to say. It was probably because she was drinking.

File:IS v04 245.jpg

"It's not......like that......no, didn't I say before that I don't have special feelings towards that guy, but how can I say it......a little brother should belong to his older sister, right?"

"Maybe that is what it feels like this......but I'm an only child."

"A-Anyway, it there's no weird meaning to it. Though......it seems that those girls look at me as a love rival, so I am bothered by it."

At the same time Maya's cup was also empty. As she ordered another, the silence continued.

"That......Orimura-sensei, towards Orimura-kun——Aah, how complicated——towards Ichika-kun going out with a girl, are you for or against it?"

"Of course I would be in favor of it. That guy could learn more about different things——not only about managing with people, but also especially towards girls."

"Isn't it good like this?"

"I-It's not."

Whaat~......thought Maya in her mind.

"It's not good, maybe should I say that I'm scared to see him seduced by another girl. That guy really doesn't have an eye for girls."

"Haa. So Orimura-sensei is concerned about Ichika-kun——"

"It's, it's not concerned, that guy can decide by himself."

Whaat~......Maya though that once again.

"Then what do you mean, in the end? Is it 'You can't go out with a girl that I don't acknowledge!' or something like that?"

"I feel that there's a slight difference......Aaah, I don't know how to say it."

Chifuyu tilted her cup, and drank the strong black beer in large gulps.

"Owner, another cup."

"Yes, just a moment."

The owner gave her another cup of beer, and she drank half of it in one shot.

"Anyways, that's the reason why I went out today. Though they are young maidens in their teens, who took their courage to come to our home, I can't bother them."


"Fufu, Orimura-sensei and Ichika-kun are a lot alike."

——Especially the part where they don't have a limit to their kindness.

"What, which parts are we alike? Maya, you really don't have an eye for guys."

"Maybe so? Fufufu."

"Muu......"

The young Maya looked like a younger sister making fun of her older sister, and that made Chifuyu laugh and angry at the same time, making her mood complex. She ended up drinking the beer left in one shot.

"Then I'll keep you company until morning."

"Fuun, how great would these words sound if you say them to a man."

"Yeah, if there's someone who has more manliness than you, then I'll do that."

Said Maya mischievously while gazing at Chifuyu.

"Then the owner would be good! I recommend him."

"Chifuyu-san, don't make fun of an oldie like me."

While saying that, the owner brought a drink which wasn't black beer——it was a Salty dog cocktail[4D 10], and the glass was rimmed of salt, and it was as beautiful as snow.

"......I haven't ordered anything."

"I thought it was about the time you would like to drink."

"Fuun......there are only noisy people around me."

Chifuyu, despite wanting to insult someone badly and to protest a bit against the fact that her mood has been looked through, took a light sip.

Seeing her behaving like a child throwing a tantrum, Maya and the owner didn't say anything.

"We are also being loved, isn't that right, owner?"

"Yeah."

"Then, I, who seems to be a noisy person, will go do other things"——after saying this, the owner walked to the kitchen.

Still having the expression of a child throwing a tantrum, Chifuyu put all the remaining cheese in her mouth.

"Everyone has grown......many things did, and many things happened too."

"Fuun, speaking like a person well over her years."

"Wh-What? Jeez! How dare you make fun of me, how mean!"

"Sorry, sorry."

Facing Chifuyu, who was bursting out with laugher, Maya puffed up her cheeks.

The ice cubes in the Salty dog cocktail, as if they were watching those two, clattered.

The scene switches to the Orimura household——there, it currently seemed like there were warriors preparing to die on a battlefield, and the battle was becoming even more intense.

"Hn......sho! Aaah, jeeze......that potato is hard to cut."

Though the movements weren't dangerous, when Rin peeled the potato, there was even flesh taken off with the peel.

Beside Rin was the one who 'should' know how to make braised beef, Cecilia, who was bluntly putting tomatoes in the cooking pot.

"How weird, why isn't the color the same as the picture shows? There isn't enough red!"

"H-Hey, don't put that much......Ah! The fire's too strong!"

"Don't worry, Houki, my food is often meant to be ready at the end."

"Food isn't about fighting or winning......"

Houki, who was wearing a hat and an apron, let out a sigh. She was working hard to make her own food——today's dish was curry.

"What is Charlotte doing? Grilled chicken?"

"It isn't Laura, it's fried chicken, I am doing the seasoning now."

"Fumu, so it's like that."

While saying that, Laura was beautifully peeling white daikons. Her manipulation of a knife was near professional level, even the experts would hold their breath......since she was using a sword as a knife.

"Wah, Laura, I feel that you're really good! Where did you learn these knife skills."

"You just need to watch, I'm only copying the tricks in the television."

"Being that great by just copying......"

"Maybe because I've been using knifes for so long; if you are in a jungle and you can't deal with wood, you can't make traps or such."

"Th-That's true......what dish are you making?"

"Oden."[4D 11]

..................

"Oden."

"No, you don't need to repeat twice......but isn't that winter food?"

"It isn't said that you can't eat that in summer."

"You aren't wrong by saying that......ah, Laura, do you have more daikons for me? Ichika said just before that he would like smashed daikons with fried chicken."

".................."

"Laura?"

*Dang!* Laura suddenly cut the radish in half.

"——Aaah, sorry, I was too focused just before, so I didn't hear anything. What did you say?"

"Huh, that......if you have more daikons, I would like......"

"So it's like this, I got it."

*Dong!* Laura precisely cut five inches of the daikon.

"——I cut!"

*Dong!* *Dong!* *Dong!* The way the eye-patched girl with an apron cuts a daikon, gives people a feeling of surrealism.

Looking at the scene of these girls cooking food together, Ichika was worried to death, and frequently looked towards the kitchen.


Though he had been asked to go watch TV, he was worried to death about whether they could really make delicious food......by the way, in that situation, the biggest victim would be Ichika's stomach.

(I-It should be OK......I guess......? They should be able to cook edible food......I guess?)

"Fun~♪Funfu~n♪"

Rin, who finally finished cutting the vegetables was humming while cooking; though after peeling that much flesh with the skin feels like a waste, and Ichika is very mindful of that.

Right, he remembered that a novel author once said this to him on the edge of the sea.

"I'll tell you what's good with time——it's that it'll surely pass."

Then another quote:

"I'll tell you what's bad with time——it's that it'll surely come."

Right, that time has come......

".................."

Seeing those five girls with their hand-made dishes, the ones which stood out the most were as he thought, Cecilia and Laura's dishes.

"How is it, Ichika-san, maybe it should be said like this——that is the result of my confidence."

That braised beef only looks perfect, and from the very beginning there was a really spicy smell.

(Are they Mexican spices? Since you wanted to make it that red, so you added Mexican spices? Cecilia!)

Then, Laura's part......how can I say it......

"That it's Oden, there's only meat in it; it looks like a BBQ."

Though it's only carrots, eggs, bamboo rings and konjac[4D 12] connected, it doesn't look normal——it should be something poached, so why would it have a burnt color......why is it brown-colored?

(This, isn't this......the so-called 'Manga-oden'......?)

Ichika really didn't want to think about how it was made.

Then, beside it was Rin's dish.

"Then, it seems that my Nikujaga[4D 13] looks the most delicious, isn't it?"

Though the one who made it seemed proud of it, the potatoes were cut into really small pieces, and why are they even smaller than the beef cubes? Was it over-cooked......it doesn't seem so.

(No, at least the taste is fine, Rin's dish is only a bit like 'that' in the appearance.)

After encouraging himself, Ichika's eyes turned to the 'safe food' area.

He saw the fried chicken Charlotte made, and also the curry Houki made. At the beginning, he thought that they should eat a bit more, so he asked them to do these dishes, though in fact, he should have only asked those two to cook——Ichika started to regret his decision.

(Aaahm it looks really delicious......Charl cut the fried chicken exactly so it can fit in a mouth, and Houki always knew how to prepare dishes. Yup, I really want to finish these.)

Though I've said that, the result will probably be miserable or cruel, isn't it? Since they already cooked that much, I should be happy from the bottom of my heart.

Though he was thinking that, there was really no way he could say 'It tastes bad' to someone who worked that hard——and that was Ichika's weakness.

"Then, everyone please eat! I'm not used with just sitting beside these dishes and waiting to eat, and I'm pretty hungry."

"You're right, then let's eat supper."

"Ichika, where are the smaller plates? Please bring them."

"Then I'll go fetch the drinks."

"To taste everyone's dishes like that, I think that it's pretty embarrassing......though it's not bad."

"At this time you should say that you're happy, isn't that right? Laura."

Yes, happy, Ichika also feels like that.

When he's preparing dishes for Chifuyu, he also feels really happy, but that happiness and this happiness are different——this happiness is closer to joy.

"So? Let's start eating!"

Facing everyone in front of the table, Ichika took the initiative and said.

"Itadakimasu!"

Compared to the food's taste itself——the feeling of everyone cherishing the warmth of eating everyone's dishes with each other, was present through that summer's evening.



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