Chapter 1「Love Rival Warning (Hamster Cluster)」
「In other words, so it’s like this?」
Laura kneaded clay she prepared on the table and looked around.
The location is the dining room in the first-year IS Academy dorm, middle of the night.
At this time, although it becomes a lounge where students enjoy evening tea time, the representative cadets’ faces look stiff.
「The winner gets to be in the same class as Ichika, the other cadets will transfer to the other class……and then」
Charlotte kneaded a similar clay as well and arranged it next to Laura’s crooked pointy object.
……It’s apparently the queen and king chess pieces.
「Living in the same room as Ichika――」
At those words, an electric shock runs through all the first-year representative cadets.
――Living with Ichika.
There is nothing quite like it.
Of course, Houki and Charlotte who had experience knew it best.
(If I were in that situation again with Ichika……)
( This- This time, I would act like a completely spoiled child!)
My sweet days again.
When they were thinking of these warm and snug feelings, Rin broke the silence.
「Anyway! All of you are rivals this time……I’m not holding back!」
Taking it in calmly, Cecilia is enjoying the evening tea time.
「Oh my, is it okay to say such a thing? It’s a flesh-and-blood confrontation this time without an IS, although you say so, do you have a chance to win?」
Knights led by me, Cecilia Alcott are invincible.
And, to add another thing.
「The important thing is group tactics……I won’t accept defeat」
Kanzashi is also boiling with fighting spirit.
The gaze is sharp like a well-forged knife.
「Humph. If it’s about tactics then, I’ll show you how to fight with my German military training」
It was Laura who was provoking them and puffing with pride but it was one thing they often forget.
That is they are fellow students, ordinary people who have not received military training.
「Alright, let’s decide team assignments for the after-school special training together! I wanted to try it once」
While showing an aura of complete joy as well, the zeal hidden inside of her was showing.
「The way of the sword…….This called Bushido, I will discover it in death」
It was Houki with a tense face but Rin quickly retorted 「No, it’s not good to die」.
Houki slams both hands on the table and stands up.
「It’s not possible to fight fairly in this」
Everyone nods deeply in agreement.
「That it is. This is different from the other day’s shameless delusion, it’s the real Ichika……」
Houki is talking about something that is difficult to say while coughing, and everyone’s faces but Kanzashi’s turn bright red and they start making excuses.
「That- That was different! That was because of an enemy attack!」
「That’s- That’s right! The- The main problem was that it was such a realistic fake reality……」
Remembering the 『Vividness』 of the World Purge, everyone turns to quickly hide their chests.
(That- That was different……that sort of thing……)
(But, Ichika-san inside the dream was really wonderful……)
(It- It doesn’t mean I wasn’t hoping for it but until that point……)
（Mine- Mine was a nightmare! Absolutely, no matter what that was a dream! ）
While each of them thinks about their excuse, they still after all can’t shake the feeling of『Was it a little too good?』
「A-Anyway! This will be a one-off serious match. Is that fine, everyone!?」
When Houki shook off the sweet look and said those words, everyone nodded.
「I will be serious and I’m going to show it」
「The glory of victory is suitable only for me」
「I won’t lose」
「Ichika is my bride!」
「……I’m going to win」
Fighting spirit within their burning eyes, the curtain rang up on the battle between maidens.
「Tatenashi-san, are you in the classroom?」
During the next day’s break time, Ichika came to a second-year classroom to deliver student council documents.
「Huh!? It’s Ichika-kun」
The other senior girls found him faster than he could find Tatenashi.
「What’s the matter? Is it for someone in our class? 」
「We’ll take care of your business quickly and promptly!」
「Come, come, tell us who is it for!」
The girls gathered around excitedly, surrounding Ichika.
There was even a girl among them boldly touching Ichika’s body.
「How about it, are you interested in onee-chan’s B-O-D-Y?」
Against such an aggressive approach, Ichika was just embarrassed.
「Wa- Wait, no, that’s uhh, because Tatenashi-san is the only one I have business with! 」
Although he shouted so, it did not stop the girls’ relentless hands.
「Come on, take it off!」
「Woah , what the……!?」
In this situation which he thought was really bad, the snapping sound of a fan closing echoed.
「……What are you doing, I wonder? I-CHI-KA-KUN? 」
「Ohh, Tatenashi-san! This is great! I’m saved――」
Ichika was happy that his saviour appeared at last but Tatenashi irritatedly turns away and goes to her seat.
「eh, eh, eh? Uh, Tatenashi-san?」
Ichika somehow escapes from the group, and tries to talk while fixing his dishevelled clothes.
However, what came back were surly words.
「……Did you want something?」
「No, well, I did come to hand over some documents though……」
「Going after school wasn’t good. Or, you were planning to hunt for girls in a second-year classroom 」
「You- You know that’s not the case at all, right!?」
At not knowing why Tatenashi is angry, Ichika cringes.
While thinking about what the deal was, the first bell rang.
「Well, here, I’m leaving this. Okay, then!」
「Thank you for your hard work」
Not looking at Ichika who dashed off, Tatenashi turns her gaze towards outside of the window.
(hmpf, What is it. Ichika-kun, being lovestruck……!)
Have I been tolerant recently? Even if Tatenashi just dabbles, it comes out indirectly.
Yet,when it came to Ichika just now――Argh, I’m getting angry just remembering it! An enraged Tatenashi thought.
Tatenashi was burning with jealousy without realizing it.
It was a feeling she felt for the first time.
(Generally, Ichika-kun is really horrible. If you have business with me, it’s not good if you use e-mail. Although I gave my address with great difficulty, don’t e-mail at all)
Tatenashi casually takes out a cellphone and looks inside the「Ichika」 mail folder.
『The student council is late today』
『I have finished putting the documents together』
『The extracurricular activities’ business trip schedule was adjusted』
――All of it, don’t be business messages!
Though she thinks so, the reason for it is all for protection.
(Once in a while, he should ask me out to even one date. Really, when it comes to Ichika-kun――)
Suddenly noticing she has only been thinking of Ichika since a little while ago and Tatenashi’s face turns red.
(This- This is, different, from love or something like that, that sort of……)
That, she could not say definitively.
Calm down me, calm down me, she repeats and Tatenashi takes deep breaths.
「Suu, Haa, Suu, Haa」
Alright, I’m okay.
「Now, Sarashiki-san. Will you be opening your textbook soon, I wonder?」
Before she knew it, a female teacher in front of her was looking at her in the face.
Tatenashi opens her textbook in a hurry.
「Pensiveness and Lovesickness in moderation, okay?」
……It’s not like that though.
That’s right, she can’t refute it, Tatenashi gives out a sigh unable to get it out of her mind
「But shopping together of all things」
「What, are you dissatisfied? With me helping you」
It was Laura who said so and nudged Ichika.
They used the after-school hours today to start buying equipment for the big athletic meet.
Both of them got off the bus, and immediately entered the station shopping mall.
「Let’s see, 50 red bean-jam buns……There’s no choice but to have it delivered」
「Red bean-jam buns? That, is that the bread with bean jam in it? Why are these kind of things ordered?」
Laura looks at Ichika with a puzzled look.
「There is a bread-eating contest. It’s a game, do you understand? The bun is hung up, and then, you jump and eat the bread」
「What’s the point of it?」
「It’s the beauty of form, the beauty of form. Come on, let’s go order it quickly」
Because Ichika nonchalantly pulled Laura by the hand, she could not say anything further.
(My bride, Ichika, has become good at handling women……)
Thus, Laura like a meek and quiet cat was lead by Ichika and finished ordering the buns.
「Let’s see, things like headbands and cotton gloves」
「Hmm. Will those be delivered to the school?」
Ichika nods casually.
In contrast to Laura who has a「？」 mark floating around.
「Then, why was I invited? I thought I would be carrying baggage」
「I wouldn’t make a girl do things like carry baggage. Laura, there seems to be a new item in the green tea café you went to before. I thought we might as well go drink it together」
Told with a clear smile, Laura was surprised.
Since the incident the other day, she felt that Ichika somehow became closer to the girls.
（Some- Somehow, he seems to be getting accustomed to women……）
For the aggressive Laura, she thought that she would be very happy but now the cause of Laura’s naivety was coming from the opposite side.
(But, but being alone with just the two of us……is nice）
While walking though the crowded mall, conscious of the still connected hands.
Ichika’s hand tenderly holding Laura’s hand.
Immersed in its warmth the whole time.
「Oh, It’s here. Look, green tea shake」
「These days they still have shakes even though it’s autumn. Because it’s still quite warm」
Ichika burst into laughter at her arbitrary head shaking.
「What is it Laura, are you tensing up? 」
「Wh- What are you saying!? Idiot」
Laura felt that he was able to guess somehow from the temperature of her body and let go of Ichika’s hand.
And quickly went inside the store.
「Don’t rush off like that, oh, excuse me, please give me two green tea shakes」
When Ichika went to order at the counter, a nice-looking older girl bowed her head in apology.
「I’m sorry. The truth is only one green tea shake can be made〜」
「Is that so? Well, then, one is fine. And then, one ice green tea latte 」
「Alright, thank you very much〜」
The goods were paid for quickly and came out immediately.
Ichika receives the tray and walks to escort Laura.
「Is there no vacant seat? It’s probably warm by the window due to the sunlight ……Hmm」
「N-No, don’t worry about it! I don’t mind」
「Yeah? How about that table over there? 」
They sit face to face on a table for two.
Laura’s heart was beating at Ichika’s 「Manliness」.
「Then, let’s drink up」
「I- I will pay the bill」
「It’s fine. It’s my treat」
Ichika is currently a Japanese representative cadet （provisionally） and as such is paid an allowance.
The generousness is however not because he has a lot of money.
It’s because Laura is a「Girl」.
At least, that’s what Ichika thought so.
「Th-Then, thanks for the drink……」
Laura said so and tried the green tea shake.
Drinking a mouthful, her complexion changed into one of surprise.
「It’s- It’s delicious! It’s really delicious! Is this……honey? There’s also red bean jam?」
Looking at Laura in such a panic with confusion and interest was Ichika.
Although his ice green tea latte is also quite good, the longer he looked at Laura’s reaction, the sweeter it seemed to be.
「If it was so good like that I should have come earlier and ordered two」
「It can’t be helped. Then you should try mine」
The shake is held out without hesitation.
Holding the straw that was pointed at himself with his mouth, Ichika drinks the shake.
「Oh! This is really delicious!」
「It is, It is ――huh!?」
Laura suddenly noticed that it was an indirect kiss, and grabbed the shake from a confused Ichika.
「Wh- What is it?」
「It’s- It’s nothing, are you alright? 」
She says so, while controlling the pounding beat of her chest, slowly putting the straw of the shake in her mouth.
（In- Indirect kiss……oh no! Wh-Wh-Wh- What should I do, what should I!?）
She was going around in circles inside her head, thinking whether or not to discuss with Clarissa about filing a maternity leave when she saw a familiar face on the sidewalk outside the window.
（Is- Is that……Charlotte!? Why- Why is she here……!?）
If you look closely, she is walking together with several classmates.
Apparently, she enjoys shopping after school.
「I-Ichika. It’s bad here. Let’s leave」
「Huh? Why are we suddenly――」
「It’s- It’s fine here」
Having pulled Ichika along, there were loud sounds coming from the noisy game center.
Teddy bears behind glass with colorful lights, brilliant video games, loud gun shooting games.
All of which, Laura experienced for the first time.
「Wh- Wh- What is this place……」
「What? Looks like it’s an arcade」
「Is- Is that so? This is……」
A good classmate of mine told me I could find a「Stuffed Toy Catcher」
「Do you grab it with this arm?……I see」
「If you want, why don’t you try it?」
She was about to agree to Ichika’s proposal when she saw Charlotte’s party at the entrance.
Laura hurriedly hid behind a nearby box-type game machine.
「Wh- What is it, Laura? You suddenly pulled me」
「Sh- Shut up you idiot! Be quiet!」
「Be quiet……huh? Could it be that you want to try this?」
Ichika and Laura were inside a photo booth.
「What is this?」
「It takes pictures. Then, it comes out as stickers. Do you want to do it for the memories?」
「Wh- What? Wait a minute, I ――」
Although Laura was showing hesitation, Ichika quickly inserted coins.
「Hey, Laura, choose a frame」
「Wh- What? Wh- Wh- What should I do!?」
「It’s white but I like it. Look, there’s a black rabbit too」
「Oooh! I will use it then」
The machine makes a dinging sound and switches to stylus mode.
「Now you write your favorite word, Laura」
「Ye- Yeah……. Any favorite word is good?」
Laura clears her throat with a cough and asks a question.
「Ichika, how much German do you know?」
「”Baumkuchen” is “good morning”」
Ichika is saved by stupidity.
「Well then, the letters……for this are」
The machine then says to press the shutter button.
「You are out of the frame. Please come closer」
After staring blankly, Ichika and Laura huddled together.
This time, although Laura’s heart was on the verge of exploding, she was somehow able to feign calmness and finish the shooting.
「Oh, it came out, it came out」
Twenty pieces of stickers with writing on it, are split between the two of them to take home in honor of today’s memories.
From the photo booth where Ichika and Laura were photographed, written in German is『Ewige Liebe』―― “Eternal Love”.
「Yeah, I can’t wait for the auto-repair after all」
Wearing an unusual IS suit, Tatenashi descended from the once completely open『Mysterious Lady』.
The location is the IS maintenance room, past eight o’clock in the evening.
「The armor and armaments are a mess but the damage to the basic parts have been repaired. Then, the academy’s strongest can’t be called that, huh……」
At the time she was giving such a monologue.
Suddenly, the automatic door of the maintenance room opens.
「Tatenashi-san, let’s take a breather」
Ichika comes in holding a tray, greatly confusing Tatenashi.
「Wh- Wha!? I-I-Ichika-kun!? Why are you here……」
In order to avoid Ichika who apparently brought a late-night snack, Tatenashi hides behind 『Mysterious Lady』.
Feeling that she was being a 「Coward」, Tatenashi turned away.
「Kanzashi told me. Oh, here, it’s a low-calorie potato salad sandwich. You like it, right? Tate――Katana-san」
A sudden surprise attack.
Suddenly, Tatenashi who was called by her real name is in a panic.
She struck back with a low whisper.
However, it does not reach Ichika.
Leaving that aside, to a body that did not have dinner, the good smell drifting around just now was like poison.
「I-I want to eat it, so leave it there」
“Shoo shoo”, she urges Ichika to leave the room.
「It’s special so let’s eat together」
Such was said.
――to say it would be too impious.
Tatenashi combs her hair up and casually locked the room’s door.
「Well, then, on the table――」
She suddenly became aware of what she was trying to say.
（I don’t want to eat staring at each other like this!）
That’s not good.
For some reason, Tatenashi is driven by an unidentifiable uneasiness.
「On- On the floor!」
「Let’s eat on the floor. Ba- Back-to-back!」
Ah, what am I saying.
Even though she thinks so, she somehow felt that it’s a good idea.
（Huh? Isn’t this considerably the best choice!? Not bad, me!）
Guts pose in mind.
A “good job” sign flutters about inside her head.
「Haa, well, but it’s fine」
Ichika says so and sits down on the floor.
Towards the back that was sitting while holding his knees, Tatenashi also turns her back and sits holding her knees.
Their lines of sight don’t intersect; their complexion also can’t be seen.
But they feel it.
Such a distance was somewhat endearing.
（This is a little bit, nice……♪）
From the tap when leaning back, it was known that Ichika reacted slightly.
Perhaps, he was getting embarrassed, she thinks.
She knows that much, now that Ichika is close to her.
Tatenashi nodded in her mind.
「How- How ‘s it going?」
「What do you mean?」
「Like your health……」
「What’s with that?」
At Ichika saying so and laughing, Tatenashi’s face reddens and she starts objecting.
「I-I mean overall, overall! Your overall condition!」
There is not the face of someone who is the head of the Sarashiki family.
Merely, a seventeen year-old you can find anywhere.
「Overall, you say……. Well, it’s not bad」
「What’s with that?」
Now it was Tatenashi’s turn to laugh.
「*pfft*. You’re weird」
「I’m- I’m not particularly weird」
「No, you are weird」
「I am not」
“Anyway, please eat”, Ichika says, diverting from the topic.
Tatenashi was in a bit of a good mood and bit on a slice of sandwich.
「Mmm♪ It’s good, it’s good」
「Thanks for that」
「What? Are you sulking?」
「I am not sulking」
「You’re not sulking」
「I’m not sulking」
Tatenashi then decided to leave it like that and reached for the lid of the sandwich.
Suddenly, she touched Ichika’s hand.
Tatenashi and Ichika, both simultaneously let their voice out.
For some reason, both of them became silent.
If it was the old Tatenashi, she would easily be able to make fun of this situation, but now she doesn’t.
（S-Say something……Say something……！）
Where was initiative of a senior, now she was just a little girl bewildered over her first love.
It was also impossible to stare at Ichika because they are back-to-back.
In this case, she can’t help being anxious about what kind of expression the other person is making now.
He doesn’t hate me right?
Such an off-the-mark thought comes to mind
*bang*, her thoughts exploded.
Tatenashi suddenly jumped on Ichika’s back.
Naturally, Ichika let out a surprised voice.
「What on earth are you doing?」
Tatenashi had an embarrassed grin at Ichika’s protests, it was a little odd even for her.
「 Ichika-kun, you have a large back!」
「Huh? What are you suddenly……. Well, that’s because I’m a guy」
「That’s- That’s right! Ahahaa!」
Ichika brushes it off as something usual or Tatenashi’s eccentricity, Tatenashi is at wit’s end and becomes talkative.
（Hehe. Because he’s a guy, ehehe）
While feeling the pain of such an itchy heart, Tatenashi smiles.
「Well, I’ll be leaving soon」
At Ichika’s words, she unintentionally made a big reaction.
I haven’t done anything yet!
Nothing has happened yet!
……Such was the pattern of thinking of a girl running wildly.
Ichika asked back.
Turning around, when the face is seen, it was not good.
Tatenashi is at a loss for words, and gets embarrassed.
While looking down somewhat, she looks for the right words someway.
「Ad-Adjustment! IS Adjustment! Please help me!」
To say such a thing was the best Tatenashi could do, but Ichika responded with a smile.
「Alright. But I don’t know if I would be useful」
A pleasant and carefree smile like that of a pure innocent boy.
And it was radiant, you couldn’t look straight at it.
Eventually, they started adjusting 『Mysterious Lady』 while Tatenashi turns away in order to not face Ichika.
（I’m an idiot! I’m an idioot!）
While stamping her feet like that in her mind.
And the next day, Cecilia came to Ichika’s place as soon as it was the lunch break.
「Ichika-san, let’s go for lunch together today. Oh, of course I know your answer is yes.」
“Such coerciveness”, Ichika thought when astonishing words came out from Cecilia’s mouth.
「I tasted today’s lunch」
At that moment, an electric current runs through Ichika.
「Hey, Cecilia! Is your body okay!? Is it not painful anywhere!?」
「Huh? It’s fine though……」
「Damn…….You’re already in the condition where you don’t understand what’s going on with yourself, Cecilia…….Why did such a thing……」
Bitter about his powerlessness.
Why did I ignore it until it became like this?
All responsibility lies within me, it was Ichika who couldn’t help but feel so.
「Wait a minute……Ichika-san, aren’t you thinking of something very extremely rude?」
「Don’t say anything Cecilia. I won’t forget you Cecilia……」
「THAT’S-BE-CAUSE! I properly measured the amount this time and made it according to the cookbook!」
Those were surprising words.
However, she doesn’t seem to be lying.
「Eh……. Then, it’s true?」
Charlotte called out to the still doubtful Ichika.
「It’s fine because it’s the book I lent」
「I see……. Good, Cecilia is safe……」
Charlotte gave out a strained laugh involuntarily but next to her, Cecilia cheeks swelled with all her might.
「That was very rude as well!」
Cecilia finally made a proper dish.
Just like that it ran about inside the classroom, spread through the first-year students, and became well-known in the entire academy.
This went on until an announcement was finally made: 「This is not a drill. I repeat, this is not a drill」
Cecilia glares at a teary-eyed Ichika.
Ichika stroked Cecilia’s head and spoke very naturally.
「Thanks Cecilia. Let’s eat together」
As expected, for this day only, both Houki and Laura let Cecilia enjoy her success and behaved themselves.
「Well then let’s go on the roof!」
Cecilia said singing, took Ichika’s hand dancing and walked cheerfully.
The location is changed to the rooftop.
Though the winds of autumn became quite cold already, the gentle rays of the sun were pleasant.
「Today, I have tomato soup and ham salad sandwiches」
Cecilia and Ichika sit side-by-side on a bench.
Ichika timidly looks at the opened bentou but did not find anything unusual there.
No, perhaps there are traps somewhere?
Though Ichika wanted to think so, that wicked thought was drowned out by Cecilia’s happy expression.
「Now, please eat♪」
*bite*. *munch* *munch* *munch*……*gulp*.
「Oh, it’s delicious」
「Ufufuu. It is, it is, isn’t it?」
Now he receives the tomato soup from the really delighted Cecilia.
This also was generally delicious with just the right seasoning.
「Cecilia, what the-?! You can do it if you try!」
「Though I got stuck a little, I am honestly pleased here」
「No, I was really surprised. I once said the English had no sense of taste and that was inexcusable」
Remembering the time he had a fight with Cecilia in the beginning, Ichika bowed his head in apology.
「N-No. I was also at fault」
In the beginning she was hostile to Ichika, now it has become embarrassing.
「By the way, can I ask why the change of heart?」
「Well, because, I was wondering why did you start tasting and cooking properly?」
「It’s because of Chelsea」
He was wondering why Chelsea’s name came up when Cecilia continued talking.
「I made a thing and a thing according to what Chelsea said, and tasted them both」
「Huh, that again」
“That was reckless”, he starts to say and then stops.
「The result was Chelsea’s was more delicious!」
“So that’s it”, he mutters in his head.
「If that’s the case, then to this Cecilia Alcott who cannot accept defeat. Should you push forward earnestly on the path of cooking?」
「Such an improvement to that extent, that’s amazing」
「That- That’s……what if there are others who would like to eat?」
Cecilia embarrassedly covers both her cheeks with her hands.
Then, Ichika and Cecilia had an enjoyable lunch with just the two of them when they incidentally looked up at the bright blue sky.
「Yes, it really is」
It was a calm time.
It was a gentle time.
――That is, if Tatenashi had not witnessed it.
Tatenashi who was waiting with a handmade lunch in her hand, noticed Ichika’s gaze and quickly hid.
「Ah, Tatenashi-san. What’s wrong?」
「No- Nothing, I just come to the rooftop sometimes. Aha, ahaha……」
Showing a stiff smile, Tatenashi turns to the right and starts running away from the rooftop.
（I’m an idiot! I’m an idiot!）
Not knowing Tatenashi’s thoughts, Ichika only stared in puzzlement.