Chapter 2: Resound, Maiden's Victory SongEdit
Seeing Rin, who's been in high spirits all morning, her roommate Tina muttered "Again?" By the way, what she was holding in her hand was a cup of deluxe, high-calorie ice cream.
Charlotte will be there too, but that doesn't matter. What's important is that today I'm going shopping with Ichika! In other words, it's a date isn't it? A date!
Despite the circumstances, she only thought about herself. That is the special privilege of a maiden-in-love.
"Okay, I've decided!"
Rin, who had finally finished deciding which clothes to wear, sternly picked at her choice up and immediately started to change.
As for Tina, she was already tired of watching Rin and is now enjoying the morning variety show on the holographic projector display.
"Then, I'm going now!"
"Okayyy, have a safe trip..."
*Batan!* One second after the door closed, the person that appeared before Rin's eyes struck her speechless.
"Good morning, Representative Candidate Huang Lingyin."
The woman was somewhere in her mid-twenties. She wore a formal suit, with those long, sharp eyes, covered by a pair of cat-eye glasses.
Looking only at her ambiance, she kinda resembled Chifuyu-nee, but the always-irritated-at-something face she makes is the critical difference between the two of them.
"I-Is there anything I can help you with....Candidate Supervisor Yang?"
An unpleasant premonition, an unpleasant premonition was sending chills up Rin's back.
That premonition surely turned into reality. Yang Lei Lei pushed her glasses up with her right hand.
"The high-speed maneuver package that is gonna be used for the Cannonball Fast, [Feng]'s preparation is finished. Do the [[[:Template:Furigana]]] and [[[:Template:Furigana]]] at once, then start the Trial. Start preparing."
"Wha!? Well...That's....Today, there's something...."
Yang's eyes only became even sharper.
"Don't make me repeat myself."
Rin dropped her shoulders, took out her cellphone and quickly tapped out a message.
"Sorry, an emergency has come up."
That was all she wrote - or rather, writing that was all her feelings could handle - and then sent it to Ichika.
"...And, will the package this time also use the impact cannon?"
"The output level will be decreased and the the scattering method for close range use will also be changed, but basically it will still be used. New technology will be used for the added thruster. Get used to it as soon as possible."
As expected of a representative candidate, Rin flipped the switch controlling her mood quickly. She confirmed the upgrade package's specifications on her computer, Then headed toward the personal IS hangar while asking questions here and there.
Fuun.... The development team did quite a good job on the completion work didn't they.
Rin eyes were quite sharp as she thought about the IS application method. Those eyes that could be mistaken for a big cat's eyes were shining brightly.
Even so.... Aaah, I'm actually super out of luck aren't I......?
Her plans to go shopping with Ichika had gone down the drain. As a result, Charlotte was going to have Ichika all to herself for a while.
Kuu~! Ichika, I'm absolutely gonna get compensation for this from you!
The computer terminal that she gripped strongly, began to flash "Alert!" two seconds later.
My hair isn't strange, right? Maybe I should check it again.
Charlotte, who had come to their meeting place 45 minutes earlier than appointed, checked her hair for the twelfth time while restlessly waiting for Ichika.
The hand-mirror that she brought out was a folded Wajimanuri[6B 1] that she intuitively bought a few days ago through an internet mail order. The drawing on it is a full moon and susuki[6B 2] on a hill, a perfect fit for the season.
While tinkering with her forelock, and pulling it left and right, she let out a small groan.
Somehow I can't decide.....
Actually, there wasn't any noticeable difference, but today, somehow Charlotte feels very sensitive.
After all, she would like the boy that she likes to sees her at 100%. That kind of wish is something that's very natural.
Even so, as expected, did I come too early?
Putting away her hand-mirror, Charlotte then checked the watch on her right wrist.
Fuu... It seems I´ve put too much fighting spirit. Let's relax a little.
Niko![6B 3] Charlotte practiced smiling.
But, unfortunately, two men who looked like [Travellers] saw that smile and thought that it was directed at them.[6B 4]
"Hey, little girl!"
"Are you free today? Are you free now? Let's go somewhere together~"
By the way, because each nation has undertaken the woman-favoring-treatment-system, men's social position has taken a sudden downturn and is in a bearish state right now.
But, as long as someone has fairly good looks = loved by women, commonly referred as Hosts and Idols, they are even more loved than before.
Since it became like that, just like this moment, the thought of being loved by an attractive woman is as natural of a thing as peaking, thus, this kind of pick-up came.
"I already have an engagement."
"Whaaat? It's fine, isn't it? Let's go play together~"
"My car is parked over there. Let's go somewhere far away! I'm going to show you a lot of good places using a French car!"
French - hearing that part drew a subtle reaction from Charlotte.
"Using a French car, with a bad fuel yield, on Japan's highways, are you? Heeeh, I see."
A 100% Rejection! The two men falter a little at the vicious words that Charlotte, using a max fake smile, spat out.
If there's a possibility that somehow or another, a problem is going to occur, Charlotte can make the two males into beehives in less than a second using her specialty [Rapid Switch].
Aaaa, I want to do it....
Imagining in what way she should shoot the two men, Charlotte massacred them 5 times in her head.
One of the men, who could still see "a pulse of life" in Charlotte's face, put his hand on her shoulder.
In an instant, Charlotte jumped right just before she was touched, then twisted that hand hard.
It was the so-called CQC (Close Quarters Combat).
"Would you mind not touching me? It will be troubling if the cologne you stink off gets on me."
"H-Hey!? Let g-!!"
Frivolous Man B, who wanted to help his companion even during the confusion, was knocked over by a punch from his side before he even managed to finish his words.
"What are you doing to my companion?"
The gallantly appearing Ichika is saving her from the hand of the devil!
...Well, to say it like that might be a bit of an exaggeration, but it can't be helped because in Charlotte's eyes, Ichika's profile was shining.
Wow! He looks like a prince!
The fascinated Charl twisted the arm of Frivolous Man A, who she was still holding, even harder.
The nice sound that resembled something being dislocated and the man's scream was causing a commotion in front of the station that morning.
"Forcing yourself onto women is against the rules, you know. Alright, come over here. Good work."
Saying that, the middle-age police chief with the oddly cool, deep voice takes Frivolous Man A & B away to the nearby police station. Thus, the morning's strife is settled.
"Sorry I was late!"
*Pang!* I put my hands together strongly until they made a loud noise.
Charl, whom the apology is directed at, was looking blankly at him in surprise.
"Th-There's nothing to apologize for, it happened before we were supposed to meet anyway.....and that..., thank you for saving me."
"It was just the natural thing to do."
Charl is, as usual, being modest or rather being reserved and still seemed to feel extremely thankful for it.
To save a friend is just a natural thing to do, but to be thanked like this is quite embarrassing.
Sure enough, the conversation stopped.
Charl, sweating a little after doing that judo-like movement earlier, is fanning her face with her hand.
"Anyway, Rin sure is late, isn't she?"
"Ah! That's right! Rin won't be coming today. It seems there's some kind of emergency."
Charl, who suddenly yelled out, drew the attention of people nearby.
Anyhow, it's Sunday, the weather is nice, and at the monument they're standing before of the station, there are a lot of other people who meet up here.
"That's why, today it will be just the two of..."
"Th-that kind of thing, even if you say it suddenly...That's, u-um, things like preparation or whatever, I haven't done any."
"A-Anyway! It's troubling for me!"
Huuh. Even if you say that...
W-Why!? Why is Rin suddenly unable to come!? Why is that!? It's too sudden!?
Unlike Ichika who's before her eyes looking blankly , Charlotte's brain is moving at high speed.
[Rapid Switch], that two-word name is currently crying.
What should I do!? What should I do! Th-that's, t-, t-, just the two of us suddenly going on a date like this...
It should have been a great opportunity for her, as that kind of thought is right for a maiden in love.
W-What should I do!? What should I do!?
But, if she thought about it calmly, this was actually a chance.
Especially since she could use the leverage called "as a return gift for the bracelet from summer" to its full extent, there was no way she could let this chance to escape.
Charlotte crossed her hands behind her back once, and then felt the bracelet's presence.
And then she used all the courage she received from it at once to force herself to speak.
"To-To-To-Today! The two of us will look around!"
Going along with Charl's loud voice, Ichika unconsciously raised his voice.
And with the people around them staring, Charlotte walked to the shopping mall inside the station with a blush on her face.
Alone with Ichika......Alone with Ichika.....
H-Holding hands should be okay, right!? ....or maybe not? Will he think of me as a strange girl? Aah, but, Ichika's hand is big and warm - That's not it!
That's not it, that's not it!
She shook her head and regained her composure.
Recalling the feeling of Ichika's hand, which she felt when they held hands a few times before, Charlotte clasped her hand tightly.
"It's not troubling!"
"It's not troubling, Ichika! Yeah! No trouble at all!"
"I-Is that so. Then I'm glad. Then, where should we start?"
The place the confused Charlotte pointed at without looking was a lingerie store.
"Wha? Ah, well...I think that place is too much...."
Looking at Ichika's red face, Charlotte looked at the place her finger pointed at.
And then her face also turned red, and she quickly waved her hand.
"S-Sorry! That's the wrong one! That's not it! That's not it at all!"
The two blushing faces looked each other, and then both looked down at their feet.
Suddenly, Ichika who managed raise his head once again, saw a familiar face at the underwear shop.
"What's the matter? Ichika?"
"Well, that's... Heey, Raannn!"
Just as I thought, it was her, Ichika thought while called out to Ran.
But, Ran, who was called suddenly by a loud voice, raised her shoulder in surprise.
She quickly hid the underwear that she had just picked behind her back, and without knowing what to do, she stiffened for a few seconds.
Did he see it!? The place where I usually choose my p-panties....has been seen!?
Furthermore, it was the long awaited meeting after not seeing each other lately.
As a maiden-in-love, the feeling that if there was a hole right there, she would bury herself, dyed her face completely red.
W-What should I do!? For starters, I'll return this....
Ran stealthily returned the black and white striped panties that she hid on the shelf earlier while keeping it behind her back. The goods, which she found right during the stock change bargain sale, were of high quality and priced at only 1000 yen for 3. It was a very good bargain, but wasn't something that makes you happy when you are seen with it by the person you like.
-te, huh? Ichika-san is bringing a woman.....? And also....
It wasn't Rin, and it also wasn't Houki. It was a woman unfamiliar to Ran.
Uwaaa....beautiful blond hair..... She looks like a model.....
She unconsciously compared it to her own reddish tea-colored hair.
The Gotanda sibling's hair color is not a result of dyeing decolourisation. The tea-colored is hereditary, but to a maiden-in-love, that is a serious situation. Ran was overly conscious of Ichika, and in the past had pondered if she should have dyed her hair completely black.
A-A-Anyway, since I´ve been called, maybe I should approach them.
But, the aura that the girl standing beside Ichika - Charlotte - was releasing made her hesitate a little
It's okay! It's fine! I'm just using my status as a junior to attack!
That's right that's right, the small Ran (x5) in her head yelled.
That's right. In the first place, because of that stupid brother of mine, I lost my chance to go to the school festival too. This much is just a natural privilege to me.....probably.
After the festival, according to the info that she got from Teens Network (Girl's Only Information Network), it seems that it was a big event where Ichika was wearing a butler suit to receive the guests.
One time for when she found out that Dan had the ticket. Another one for when she saw the butler photo. She had planned to beat Dan twice, but what's here is the innocent heart of a maiden-in-love. There's no way just that much would be able to compensate.
But, it's okay! This month is Ichika's birthday! I plan to properly join the party!
Today she went shopping to scope out possible gifts, but buying herself clothes and general goods - especially panties while she's looking, around is a big failure.
She was being forcibly suppressed by the self-conscious feeling of being seen during an embarrassing moment, but from the maiden-heart squad's splendid activity, the suppressed territory was gradually being released.
-Un! It's okay!
She clutched her hand and walked toward Ichika with well-regulated steps.
That appearance was the resolute appearance worthy of Private Academy Saint Marianne Girls Middle School Student Council President Gotanda Ran.
"Good afternoon, Ichika-san"
Niko! The innocent Girl - 100% level - smile was dazzling.
"Hey, you're alone today?"
"Ah, yes. Strolling and shopping."
"Is that so. -Ah, sorry about the matter from before. You must have wanted to attend the school festival, didn't you? Since you want to enroll there next year."
"T-That's right. If possible, it would be nice if I'm prioritized next time you're giving out tickets...."
Once that kind of friendly chat started, Charl was perplexed.
That there is a girl outside the school being friendly with Ichika...... truth to be told, it isn't amusing at all.
"A, um, Ichika..."
"Ah! Sorry! I haven't introduced her."
Saying that, Ichika cut his conversation with Ran with the best timing.
Charlotte, who can't help but feel happy, become high-spirited with a giggle.
Waaa, waaaa!? This person is really beautiful when she smiles. Uuu, uuu, don't lose, me! Go for it, Ran!
This girl is a junior, isn't she. I don't know what to say, whether Ichika is really indulgent or considerate to a junior. He's 20% kinder to them. Geez, even though I wanted him to be kind to me too...
"This is Charl. My classmate and France's representative candidate."
"Charlotte Dunois. N-Nice to meet you."
"Go-Gotanda Ran. Nice to meet you too."
In a handshake to decide who will have the aura of a winner, Charlotte had an advantage.
Feeling that smooth silk-like touch, Ran's consciousness blurred for an instant.
"Do you remember? During the school festival, you met my friend Dan right? Ran is his little sister."
"Is that so."
"Yes, it is."
"And, it seems that next year she will be accepted at IS Academy. She's going to be our junior at school."
"Y-Yes! That's right! Please do instruct me."
She bowed 90 degrees straight, and then raised her head up, slightly dizzy.
"That's right. I should still be able to hand you that ticket. Ran, did you bring a cellphone?"
-Uwaaaaannn, I failed![6B 5] So embarrassing....
The cellphone that was just taken out was switched into direct connection mode, and then the ticket data got transferred.
"This month [Cannonball Fast]'s special reserved seat ticket. You want to see it right?"
"Ah, yes! Of course!"
"But, just like the school festival, each person only gets one invitation card. I'm sorry that I can't give your friends' share too."
"N-Not at all! It's okay! All of my friends are the type who are satisfied with just watching the relay broadcast."
"Heee, is that so."
After seeing the "Sending Complete" screen, Ichika closed his cellphone. A few seconds after that, Ran returned her cellphone into her bag.
U, u, if only I'd taken the character sticker off of my cellphone. He must have thought I'm childish...
As for Ichika, it just left "Ah, there's something cute attached"-like impression, but for Ran who wants to be seen as lover material, this is also one small failure.
R-R-Recovery..... I have to recover or else.....but, what should I do.... Charlotte-san is very pretty too, what can someone like me....
There's nothing like that-. Go for it-.
Ran, who somehow seemed to hear that kind of voice from somewhere, put forth all of her courage and spoke up in a strained voice.
"Ah, um! Is it okay if I join you to look around today?"
Easily ok-ed. Piling anti-climax on top of exhaustion, Ran lost her stance and was quickly supported by Charlotte.
"What's wrong? Are you okay?"
Uwaaaa, this person is really great! Just like a young nobleman! She's pretty, cute, and cool, that's so unfair! There's no God, is there?! Stupid~!
"Then, let's go to lots of places."
Hearing Ichika's carefree voice, both Charlotte and Ran nodded their head, and then respectively lined up at his left and right side.
"One, two! One, two!"
"Target confirmed! Fire!"
IS arena no.3. There, unaffected by the fact that it's a day-off, those strong students who aim to go even higher spend all of their time doing IS training.
The one in that corner and out of breath was Cecilia.
She's making the BITs do a linked high-speed rolling shot in order to make the laser trajectory bend many times over.
But, she hasn't been successful in doing the [[[:Template:Furigana]]] even once, and with each passing time, the fatigue showing on her face was getting more and more obvious.
Once again, she concentrated her senses, and she took a stance with her BR rifle [Starlight mk III].
Cecilia put the image of water in her mind, and then fired above the balloon.
But, Cecilia's effort was in vain. The laser plunged straight ahead, hit the screen shield and dispersed.
"Let's end it here for today..."
Fuu, Cecilia put away her rifle while sighing. The gun barrel in her right hand changed into light particles and disappeared.
Returning to the waiting room, nothing but gloomy things were showing on that face, only irritation and fatigue could be perceived there.
"[Blue Tears], standby mode."
Shrouded by light, Cecilia's feet slowly touched the ground because of the IS' release PIC.
For the time being, I'll take a hot shower and at least change my mood....
While thinking that, she opened the door of the dressing room.
There, an unexpected person was standing.
"Huh? Cecilia? What are you doing, training?"
"Rin-san..... Well, it's something like that."
For some reason, Cecilia answered with an artificial smile towards Rin, whom she often hung around with.
It was different from just a display, it could be said that it was an action born from her pride.
Whether she knew about thoughtfulness toward someone she considered her equal or not, Rin smoothly let it slide and continued the conversation.
"I am going to do deployment training for the new equipment model starting now. Actually, I wanted to use arena no.6. Unfortunately, it was completely booked."
"New equipment model, is it the high speed package as expected?"
"Fufun, that's right. Just wait for it, Cecilia. Let's fight a good match on the appointed day."
"Yeah. I'll hold you to that."
Receiving the finger pointing of her rival, Cecilia's fighting spirit was burning.
Rin's 'throwing a written challenge'-like attitude could have been because she felt Cecilia's mental fatigue. Rin has always been sharp in noticing the subtleties of other people's feelings.
"Then, see you."
"Yeah, see you."
Rin waved her hand, and Cecilia returned it, not with an artificial smile, but with a genuine one, and then they passed each other.
I won't lose. Not to anyone in the academy!
Cecilia, her feelings renewed, entered the dressing room with quick steps.
"Is there anything that catches your interest?"
Gazing at the display in the clock shop, I let out a groan.
It can't be helped that I don't know which one to choose, I don't understand which one is good and which one isn't.
Even if I want to choose based solely on the design, somehow there's nothing that could intuitively catch my interest; That was my honest thought.
But, since it's a birthday present from Charl, I want to choose it firmly.
"We are also selling these watches here, how about it?"
"Ah, no, that one is a little..."
"Is that so."
The male clerk was also troubled by his inability to grasp my taste. ......Not good, not good. I have to do something.
"By the way, Ran, do you have any wristwatch?"
"Huh!? Well, that's...."
"I don't have one..... I, I thought that the watch on my cellphone should be enough or something."
While I nodded in response to Ran's words, Charl put both her hands on her hips and made a scolding pose.
"Jeez, that's not good you know. You two, especially Ran-chan since you're a girl, should be more stylish."
Which reminds me, Charl is adding a chan when speaking to the younger Ran. Ran is also adding san when calling Charlotte. It seems the seniority relation has already been created between the two of them.
"But, that's, a wristwatch seems to be something that can't be bought just using pocket money..."
"Ah, is that so. Representative candidate student's standing in general is something close to a government worker for a country, that's why we get an allowance."
"I-Is that so?"
That´s something that is very enviable.
"Yes. Ichika is still not a candidate student, right?"
"A-, yeah. Somehow the deliberation at the international IS facility has been prolonged."
"Fuun. Even so, it sure is taking a long time."
There has been no further progress even though it's already September. Just as I thought, being the world's only IS male pilot is the problem.
Probably, [Byakushiki], in the production of which Tabane-san got directly involved, might also be one of the reasons.
It's something like applying pressure so as to not let the latest technology get monopolized by Japan. It's seriously troubling, isn't it?
"At any rate, if we stay like this, it doesn't seem like we will decide on a wristwatch anytime soon, would we."
Charl returned the topic of the conversation to wristwatches. I really started to feel bad for the troubled clerk.
"That's right isn't it. Uuuun-..."
"T-Then, how about I choose one that I think would suit Ichika the most?"
"Ooo, that sounds like a good idea. Since Charl seems to have a very good fashion sense too."
"I-Is that so? Thank you. Then, I'll choose now."
Charl's expression was shining, while in contrast, a little worry was surfacing on Ran's.
Why is that I wonder?
Worried about Ran's gestures, Charl called out to her.
"Ran-chan, let's choose together. This is a rare opportunity too."
"Huh, ah, yes!"
"No need to worry about the price."
"H-Hey hey! I will be the one who's troubled if it's too expensive."
"Fufu, why is Ichika the one worrying? You're the recipient, right?"
"No, well, it might be like that...but you usually hesitate when wearing an expensive watch right?"
"Then, I'll choose one that a high-school student can afford from a part-time job salary. Is that okay?"
"Well, I guess.... Ah, but, I'll make sure to give a return gift that more or less costs the same on Charl's birthday too."
"Nn. Thank you."
"Of course I will give a birthday present for Ran too."
"O-Okay! Thank you very much!"
After that, Charl and Ran took about 20 minutes to choose my birthday present. They brought a wristwatch to show me.
"What do you think about this one?"
It was a metal wristwatch that was white-based in color with golden-colored inlays. The golden white radiance is very pretty.
"I think it will suit Ichika better than a silver-colored one. See, the gauntlet on your right hand is also white colored, right?"
Hearing those words, I rolled my right sleeve.
The IS [Byakushiki]'s standby mode is a white bracer on my right wrist which fits very nicely with the wristwatch.
"It certainly looks that way. White style on both hands, huh?"
"I thought so, it looks great! Really!"
"Alright. Thanks for helping to choose it, Ran."
"N-Not at all! This kind of thing is just, a, a piece of cake!"
Ran was saying that, but unfortunately the watch was pointing at 12 o'clock. It was already the time for lunch.
*Guuu!* Her stomach was growling. Ran's face became completely red.
"Haha. Let's go to a restaurant somewhere."
"Y-Yes.... I'm sorry...."
Ran was blushing to her ears, which for some reason looked cute, and I ended up patting her head.
Charl hurriedly went to ask the clerk to wrap the wristwatch.
"Charl, where should we have lunch?"
"Uuunn, I wonder where."
"What about Ran? Is there anything you want to eat? I'll treat you."
"N-No! I'll pay my own share at least!"
"Don't say that. Ah, how about the outdoor café there?"
"Ah, isn't that place quite expensive though?"
"That's why I said I'll treat you. Ah, or could it be that you have eaten there before?"
"O-Only for drinks...."
"Alright, then it's decided. Let's have lunch there."
"O-Okay. Thank you very much."
Ran was still looking at her feet while playing with her fingers. She seemed a little uncomfortable and her face was red.
Somehow, it seemed like she's extremely embarrassed about her stomach growling earlier. It almost feels like I've done something bad.
"Okay then, let's go."
Charl, who had just received the merchandise earlier, led us to the outdoor cafe.
Ran and I followed her and entered the store.
"Heee, this place is really stylish isn't it. Today weather's is just right too, so the location is excellent."
Charl, whose hair is being brushed gently by the wind, smiled. That figure, which really looked like that of the daughter of a noble, somehow took me aback for a moment.
"Ah, what is Today's Lunch Menu?"
"Then, we'll order 3 of those."
"Thank you for ordering."
After that exchange of words, the waiter left.
I suddenly realized, Charl and Ran were fixedly staring at me.
"W-What is it?"
"No, well, it seems you're very well trained at this."
"No way, this much is just normal. I didn't eat out that much, so Chifuyu-nee told me to be able to order at least this smoothly."
"A, um, could it be that Ichika-san often comes to this kind of store?"
"Nope, I rarely dine outside. Ah, but I do eat at Ran's house, don't I?"
"Please don't put a set-meal store like ours in the same boat..."
"Why is that? It's not something to be embarrassed about, right? Gotanda set meal is delicious isn't it."
"That name alone is detestable enough for me...."
Well well, a teenage maiden's line of thought is really hard to understand. I thought it was something to be proud about.
"By the way, that's..."
While looking intermittently at Charl, Ran's mouth was mumbling something. It looked like there's something that's hard to say.
"I-Ichika-san and Charlotte-san, are you two seeing each other right now!?"
"H-Hey Hey, what are you saying so suddenly?"
"B-But, that's, it seems you two are getting along so well..."
"That's because we were in the same team during the tag match in the past. Right? Charl."
"Y-Yeah. More or less..."
Could it be that, from the surprise of that sudden remark, Charl's face became bright red while she nodded.
But, today's Ran seems a little weird. I wonder what's wrong.
"....Thank goodness. Not seeing each other yet..."
While doing some small talk, the lunch came unexpectedly quick.
The waiter brought 3 plates at once. Ooo, Amazing.
"Thank you for waiting."
The waiter said that and lined up the 3 plates. On those crab cream spaghetti, a crab claw was placed at the center of the dish. It really excites your appetite.
"Well then, please enjoy your meal. I'll bring the desert afterwards."
The waiter said that and left our table. We took our utensils, and started to immediately eat our pasta.
I, Charl, and Ran, in that order, put our hands together, then started to eat our crab cream spaghetti.
"Yeah. It's written somewhere that this is raw pasta."
The free-refill mixed herb tea that is part of the lunch really suits the food too.
Since we're in the middle of eating, the conversation stopped temporarily, as we moved our forks.
Even so, this is really delicious. What do they use to get this kind of secret flavor in the sauce I wonder.
"Hmm? Ran, there's something."
I took a piece of napkin, and gently wiped Ran's mouth.
"There's sauce all over your mouth."
"I-If you had just told me, that's.....I, I would have wiped it myself!"
"I-Is that so. Sorry."
"Ah, no, well, um, it's not that I don't... T-Thank you very much."
Ran's face reddened and she hung her head.
It seems that I don't have enough delicacies towards a girl.[6B 6] I'll reflect on it.
Uwa, uwa, uwawa.....
Ran is replaying the scene from a moment ago while holding her pounding heart with a hand gently placed at her chest.
My mouth was wiped by Ichika-san.....
Even through the cloth, that gentle fingertip's sensation can still be felt on her mouth - or rather her lips.
T-That's no problem is it? I properly put on my lipstick too.... I-It's okay isn't it?
Although it's not like she's seeking confirmation from anybody in particular, Ran repeated that thought many, many times.
She can no longer taste the pasta that she thought was more than delicious enough too.
In a half panicked state, Ran mechanically moved her fork.
Uuu, I was treated to lunch too. Somehow, Ichika-san suddenly feels very adult-like.
Talking about being treated before this, she can only remember canned juice and the shooting game at the game center.
Now that you think about it, Ichika-san was really good at games wasn't he?
She remembered about the shooting game where she quickly got a game over when playing it.
She replayed how she was gazing on Ichika's profile under the pretense of watching the game.
She remembered that his figure, when he accurately defeated the enemy, was really cool, just like that of a main character from a movie.
Even so, to think Charlotte-san is this pretty and cute, on top of that she's also a country's representative candidate... Something like that is really unfair....
Ran, who was planning to take the entrance examination for IS Academy next year, starting from this summer had hurriedly investigated IS related things.
She knew that about 8 or 9 cases out of ten, nation representative candidates who got into IS Academy, were the users of personal IS. She also knew that they were elite of elites.
On the news they also showed that Houki-san recieved a personal IS. Furthermore, they said that her unit was built by Professor Shinonono herself....
-Uuuu. She thought everyone is really unfair.
Ran thought like that, but she didn't seem to realize yet, that her position as the sister of Ichika's best friend's is a big advantage on its own.
"By the way, Ran."
"About that Cannonball Fast ticket which I gave you earlier, it seems to coincide with my birthday. So that means the birthday party that is planned at my house could end pretty late. Is that okay?"
"N-No problem! On that day, that stupid... sorry, I mean my brother will also be there!"
"Ah, now that you mention it. He will be there, won't he."
Then, she realized a big problem there.
"Ah, will the people from IS Academy also come!?"
"W-What's the matter? Of course they plan to come."
"H-How many people will come?"
"Ummm, five people I think?"
Ran was attacked by something resembling giddiness. Even just Rin, Houki, and Charlotte are already powerful rivals, but to have even more rivals beside those three made her increasingly anxious.
This is bad, this is bad -. For a birthday present, hand-made cakes and small things won't cut it....
Suddenly, her self-confidence vanished.
Ran had some pride on her moderate cooking skills, but in the first place, Ichika is also a good cook. And to add to that, looking at the price of the watch that Charlotte bought earlier, she became bashful.
But but, I can't ask for advance pocket-money at this time, and my school prohibits part-time work too, uuuuu
Thinking about those things, Ran suddenly remembered about Rin.
W-What will Rin-san do I wonder.... If I remember correctly, Rin-san is also a representative candidate. Then, that means she gets military funding, doesn't she.....
Haaa...There are too many rivals....
Ran became a little disheartened.
Unintentionally, the hand she was using for eating stopped moving, and it worried Ichika.
"What's wrong? Are you already full?"
"N-No, that's, no problem! Yeah."
"Is that so. It's okay then. But if you're full already I'll help finish your food."
"T-Thank you very much."
Even though she said that, she became shy with the mention of giving the food that already touched her lips.
Indirect kiss - thinking that could happen, Ran's face once again reddened.
I wonder, has Ichika-san ever kissed anyone...?
Mindful about those things, Ran became increasingly conscious about her mouth being wiped earlier.
Casually moving her hand, when she tried to gently touch her lips, she strangely felt hot.
How does a kiss feel I wonder...
While she absent-mindedly thought that, their meal was finished, and the time for dessert came.
"Huh? These complementary ice creams, the three of us got different flavors."
"It really is. I wonder why?"
"U-Umm let's see now, mine is strawberry, Ichika-san's is vanilla, and Charlotte-san's is chocolate flavored right?"
"Looks like it."
While looking at the nodding Ichika, a wild idea that crossed Ran's mind started to develop.
T-This, could it be this will become the situation where we feed each other ice cream to taste the different flavors.....
While day-dreaming about Ichika doing a "Okay, Aaaan"[6B 7] scene, Ran let out a slightly flustered smile for an instant.
Shaking off that thought hastily, Ran gazed at the dessert's ice cream again.
"Since it's like this, how about we feed each other?"
"Wha, no, well, just now, what did you..."
"No, well, maybe we should feed each other or something..."
I-Is this a dream?....That's right, if this is a dream then it won't hurt even if I pinch my leg.
"Ouch ouch ouch."
"N-No! Nothing! Nothing at all!"
-It's not a dream!
Ran, whose consciousness was called back to reality by the pain, confirmed that the words that Ichika said earlier were real.
Aah! It's looks like a lie! It's like a dream! To be fed by Ichika-san!
"Then, let's start from my vanilla ice cream. Charl, aaaan."
Charlotte drank the vanilla ice cream. Her face, dyed red just like Ran's, confirmed her as Ran's rival in love.
"T-This is tasty."
"Is that so. I'm glad then. Then, next is Ran."
Aaah, what should I do. What should I do!? I'm not even tasting it anymore-. Uuu, but, but....this could be happiness.
The dazed Ran didn't realize that there's no longer any ice cream on the spoon and kept holding it in her mouth.
"Is there still any ice cream left on the spoon?"
"!? N-No! That's, thank you for the meal."
Ran hastily separated her mouth from the spoon.
Uuu, I did it again
Usually, Student Council President Gotanda Ran would never show this kind of unsightly appearance.
But right now she is only a girl in love that you can find anywhere, who wants to be in front of the person she likes.
Uuun, this girl also likes Ichika, doesn't she.
Seeing their conversational exchange, she confirmed her own thought of "It's just as I had suspected"
Ichika really is a natural ladies-man, isn't he...
Haa, she sighed to herself, then scooped her ice cream.
"I-Ichika, then I'll give you my ice cream next."
"H-How is it? Is it tasty?"
"Nn! This, there's cocoa powder inside. It's really tasty."
"H-Hee! Is that so."
That tongue, as usual, tasted things in detail, and Charl felt depressed inside by that.
Jeez, Ichika....you don't have to taste it in that detail when I feed you, right? Even if it's a little, I wish he wouldn't feel the texture of the ice cream.[6B 9]
The little Charl inside her head was mad at Ichika.
In any case, the upright Charl didn't forget about Ran.
"Then, Ran-chan too please have some. Aaahn."
"It's really is delicious isn't it."
Ran was smiling. But, inside Charlotte's heart wasn't calm at all.
T-T-This is, indirect kiss with Ichika!? Aaah.....Ran-chan is so lucky...
Charlotte looked at Ran enviously. Unconsciously, she was struck by the urge to lick the spoon too.
N-No no. As expected, that is too unladylike.
Charlotte, who restrained herself using her steel-like will, suddenly realized something and it's like a light bulb in her head lighted up.
T-That's right! Next, is my turn right!? an i-indirect kiss with Ichika....
Charlotte was looking at the spoon in Ran's hand while her heart throbbed. Her eyes were burning, and her cheeks were dyed pink.
"T-Then, Ichika-san! A-Aaahn!"
"Nn! This one has the fruit flesh inside! Delicious."
Thump, thump, thump....
Charlotte's heart was beating fast.
"T-Then, Charlotte-san too. A-Aahn."
I-I-I just indirectly kissed Ichika! I really just indirectly kissed Ichika! W-W-What should I do!
Suddenly, she no longer knew about the ice cream's taste.
The good texture from the sherbet-shaped strawberry was conveyed, but even that was only vaguely felt.
"Is that so! I'm glad."
Charlotte is gazing at the spoon that left her mouth like she reluctanly had to part with.
But, even thinking that to herself is just too unladylike. She lowered her blushing face.
E-Even so, Ran-chan really is a good kid, isn't she.
Feeding Ichika first to make the indirect kiss happen. Of course, it might be purely her wanting to let Ichika eat first, but Charl took that act as consideration.
T-This is bad. What should I do.... this throbbing won't stop at all.
Her heart seemed to be about to burst from the happiness and delight.
After that, just as expected, she can't feel the taste of her choco ice cream at all.
"T-Thank you for walking me home."
"Yeah. Please say hi to Dan for me."
The time was past 4 o'clock. Under the sky where the sun had almost set, Ichika, Charlotte, and Ran were in front of the Gotanda restaurant.
After lunch, the three of them, after visiting all the stores they wanted to, were at the store's front because of Ichika's words (Then, let's accompany Ran until she reaches her house).
Ran wanted to invite them in for dinner, but since it was only 4 o'clock, she gave up on that idea. As expected, it's still too early for dinner.
"T-Then, that's, see you at the birthday party."
"Yeah. Please cheer us on during the race too."
"Y-Yes! I will certainly do that! G-Good luck in the race!"
While saying that, Ran, who couldn't look at Ichika directly, seemed to be unable to calm down while glancing upwards at her house. Probably, she's trying to not be seen by her family, so she doesn't end up being talked about.
Please don't let that stupid brother come out.....! Also, please also don't let father come out....!
While thinking that, she looked at Ichika once again.
He really is cool isn't he.....
She remembered the first time they met. That day when she fell in love in 0.1 seconds.
- There's no way love at first sight exists. Are you stupid or something.
That day was when she started thinking how unbelievably stupid she was for thinking like that.
Simply, people do fall in love.
The reason can always be added after, and the impression is always vivid.
And also, once it starts, it can no longer be stopped. Unstoppable, an awakening of love.
"Ah.... Erm, that's..."
She entwined the fingertips of her hands behind her back.
Fidgeting, fidgeting. Ran was enveloped by a stifling feeling of wanting to say something, but being unable to do so, and ended up saying "Good night!"
Uuuu, stupid me! Stupid stupid!
She entered her house, and while climbing the stairs with quick steps, she started berating herself in her mind.
"Oh? Is that you Ran? So, you're home already."
While going to the second floor, she ran into Dan.
And in his hand was a certain high grade cup ice cream that she had preciously saved.
"This stupid brother!"
Finding an outlet to release her frustration, Ran settled it with a dropkick.
Alone with I-Ichika on the road home.... Alone.....alone.....
Charlotte and Ichika were on their way home, but somehow a strange silence stretched between them.
The main reason was Charlotte's temper, but Ichika being Ichika, was concerned about Charlotte and ended up not talking either.
"Today was fun wasn't it."
"Huh!? Ah, yeah! It was fun!"
To Charlotte, who wanted to make use of this chance, her head had been filled with impatience and confusion from the moment they arrived at the bus stop in front of the academy. Those little Charlottes inside her brain had been making a fuss in a meeting.
Aaa, we've arrived in front of the gate. This is bad, this is really bad, the chances of meeting someone are large since we've arrived at the school site, isn't it. N-Need some kind of topic.... topic...
"B-By the way Ichika."
"Do you like listening to music?"
"Aa, my friend used to lend his music to me during middle school, but I haven't been buying any new music lately. And you see, we're also busy with IS related things right?"
"I-Is that so. Now that you mention it, speaking of IS!"
"The new equipment that they sent from my home country last time is quite nice isn't it! Like the rapid-fire speed, or the number of bullets loaded."
"Hee. Is that so. Charl's shooting ability is getting even stronger then."
"T-That's right isn't it! Aha, ahahahahah......"
Aaaaah, I'm so stupid stupid stupid! That topic was completely something a girl would not talk about! Think about a better topic to talk about, my brain!
If Ichika had not been around, she would have hit her own head.
"Ah, it's Houki."
Charlotte hung her head inside her heart.
Sure enough, Ichika called out to Houki.
And then, Houki, also noticing being called so suddenly, went to their side.
"Ichika and Charlotte. Did you go somewhere outside the school?"
"Aa, we were shopping. Right?"
"W, just the two of you!?"
"No, Ran was also there. We met her by chance on the way. Right?"
Houki frowned toward Charlotte, who had been giving answers as if she was somehow feeling guilty.
"W-Well, if wasn't just the two of you, then it's okay."
Houki cleared her throat, and then crossed her arm.
"Even so, since you went shopping, why didn't you invite me too? Since I also need to buy daily necessities and some other things too."
"Alright. I understand. Next time I'll mail you when I want to go shopping."
"U, umu. That's good then."
Houki nodded. Her cheeks got little red.
"Now then, since we have returned just before dinner too, how about we have dinner together?"
"N-Now that you mention it. Since you've asked about it, I guess I'll join you."
"Then, let's return to our own rooms first and then gather at the cafeteria entrance. How about in 10 minutes?"
"Ah, can I also invite Laura if she's in our room?"
"Alright. The more the merrier right? I'll invite Rin too."
"W-Why do you mention Rin's name suddenly!?"
"Well, actually today Rin had also planned to tag along. She said she had an emergency then, but it should be over by now I think."
"....That Rin, how cunning...."
"N-No, nothing at all!"
Hastily clearing her throat, Houki tried to change the topic.
"Then, see you later."
The vigorously answering Houki and Charlotte nodded in a smile.
Translation Notes and ReferencesEdit
- ↑ Wajimanuri is a lacquer product from Wajima city 
- ↑ A Japanese pampas grass 
- ↑ A Japanese term for smiling
- ↑ T/N Note : The two men who happen to be there saw Charlotte's smile and thought that smile is for them(they thought she was flirting with them)
- ↑ She wanted to say "Hai" which means "Yes" and said "Hahi" instead which I roughly translated into "Yesh". The original Japanese word was 裏返って which means that she spoke wrong, could be because she spoke in high pitch tone, or like in this example, she misspelled one syllable.
- ↑ Meaning Ichika believes he is not yet fully aware of the feelings of girls. Japanese usually use the word "delicacy" to mean sensitiveness towards someone's feelings. This term and it's usage was probably influenced by the english word "delicate" as in fragile or sensitive.
- ↑ The english equivalent of this sentence is "Okay, Say Aaaaa".
- ↑ Sound of putting a spoon into a mouth.
- ↑ She wishes Ichika wouldn't feel the ice cream's texture because he gets nervous when being feed by Charlotte. So basically Charlotte is disappointed by the lack of flustering by Ichika when she fed him.