Chapter 3「Soap Bubble Daydream」
「That was a terrible experience……」
Worn out by just the morning events, I trudged alone.
On the outer edge of the academy is a relaxation area……a plaza.
Some kids are unrolling sheets on the lawn and some are sitting on the benches installed.
Everyone was murmuring and happily spending time with lunch.
「But what should I do for lunch break?」
Well, should I have lunch with everyone like usual?
「I found Ichikaaa♪」
*Thump*, a slightly heavy thing climbs on my back.
……It was Rin.
「What are you doing?」
「Hehhee. I didn’t stop looking for you. Thank me, thank me」
“Listen here” I thought when I saw Tatenashi-san standing by herself in the corner of my eye.
「Hey, Tatenashi-san. Let’s have lunch with everyone」
「Err, ah, no, that’s……」
Why does she suddenly seem flustered?
「Let’s go, come on」
I forcibly grab Tatenashi’s still somewhat frozen hand and began to walk.
Tatenashi-san became silent, her cheeks reddening while looking down.
……I wonder why.
Is it because she thinks she’ll be mistaken for a lost child?
We walked a short distance and joined the representative cadets that gathered on a spread out sheet on the lawn.
Hearing Kanzashi made Tatenashi-san embarrassed.
「Ichika, why are you holding hands?」
Houki immediately asked in a state of anger.
「No, leaving that aside, you are messing around with Rin! Why is she on your back!? 」
「Because the view is good」
「Are you a weatherman!?」
“I can’t help it” Rin says and jumps down from my back.
That supple motion was just like a cat.
「Light as ever」
Mainly the chest.
「Ichikaa, I’ll kill you if you’re thinking of something unnecessary」
I wasn’t thinking of anything.
「Well then, shall we sit down Tatenashi-san?」
「Eh, err. But I’m a second-year and……」
Oh, is her declining a rare thing?
「Please don’t say such a thing. Tatenashi’s lunches are one of the things I enjoy」
Tatenashi-san’s cooking is delicious.
Although I am also capable, I can’t make it as delicious as that.
I wonder if she would teach me.
I will ask gently next time.
「Let’s exchange with each other. If you like, we could feed each other but――」
Cecilia and the others suddenly presented side dishes to me when I invited Tatenashi-san.
Wh-What’s going on?
「Wait a minute, wait a minute. How about we settle down first and drink some tea」
This time, Char and the others held out tea thermoses.
「Woah! Calm down! I mean settle down! Tatenashi-san, let’s not keep standing! 」
I repelled the fierce attack from all the girls and made a space for Tatenashi-san next to me.
「Ah, please wait a moment」
The sheet was not sufficient so I spread out a handkerchief on the spot where Tatenashi sat.
「There you go」
“Kneeling and sitting on your heels is a bit–” I thought so I couldn’t help it, I can’t have the soft fair skin of a young girl be on the lawn.
However, everyone had a face of maximum displeasure for some reason when I behaved that way.
「Ichika, partiality towards your seniors is intolerable 」
「What’s with you, Houki? I was taught to be respectful to seniors. And besides, she is a girl」
「If that’s the case then first, as a lady, I would like you to escort me! 」
「It’s impossible for me to match someone of your standing, Cecilia」
「Ichikaa, treat me to a parfait next time. The one from the front of the San Diego station」
「Why should I, Rin? I mean, you! Pay me back for the bill from middle school! 」
「You know, Ichika, would you not like to try enrolling to the Gentleman Training Experience School? I could accompany you」
「If it’s being a gentleman, I should just follow your example, Charl」
「Become my shield in the battlefield」
「That’s not being a gentleman anymore, Laura」
「Oneechan only……that’s unfair」
「It can’t be helped, Kanzashi」
At such back and forth arguing, Tatenashi-san opened her folding fan.
「That’s right. Let’s do it like this」
The word『Equality』is on the folding fan.
「Starting now, everyone will have ten minutes to have lunch with just Ichika alone. Everyone can enjoy that way, right?」
The color of everyone’s eyes changed at Tatenashi-san’s proposal.
「That is certainly good!」
The one who broke the ice was Houki.
Holding a lunch box in her hand and eyes shining intensely.
「Indeed, that’s a really good idea」
When Rin also agreed, the rest of the girls also nodded in agreement.
「Well then, we’ll determine the order by rock, paper, scissors〜. Ready, set, go」
「Yes, I’m first!」
Rin poses triumphantly.
「I am second……I guess this is all right」
Cecilia flips her hair.
「I’m the third? Yeah, not bad」
Houki folds her arms.
「Damn, I’m falling behind……」
Laura said frustrated and thereupon Charl whispered something to her ear.
「Hmm……? Hrm……。I see……That’s right!」
It seems they’ve made some kind of agreement.
Not being suspicious of women’s secret discussions is proper etiquette for a man.
「Huh? What are you doing Tatenashi-san?」
Come to think about it, she did not participate in the rock-paper-scissors game, I called out to her she sighed in return.
「I’m sorry. I know you wanted to accompany me no matter what but I’ve been quite busy」
「No, you didn’t have to say that」
This isn’t like the usual Tatenashi-san.
……If that’s the case, well, is this ok?
「Well then, let’s start at once! Here Ichika, let’s go to that bench there」
「Let’s go, let’s go」
Rin pulls me towards the bench.
Rin quickly sits down and confidently opened the lunch box.
「Tahdah! Today, I have some chicken and cashew nuts stir-fried sweet and salty! 」
「Oh, it looks good!」
「Hmmph, it doesn’t look good, it is good!」
She seems extremely confident.
Rin puffs out her flat chest with all her might.
(It’s fine even if that area is unisexual)
Since that matter the other day, for me whose awareness of girls is in the process of changing, Rin is my precious second childhood friend who I associate with stability.
「Then, I’ll feed you」
She said so and picks up a piece of chicken with chopsticks.
「Here, say aahh♪」
This is becoming troublesome….
「I’m-I’m okay. People are looking and I can eat by myself and……」
「Huh? What are you being embarrassed about this time? It’s fine so eat it」
「I said I can eat by myself」
「I-T-‘S F-I-N-E S-O, open your mouth!」
I obstinately keep my mouth shut, declaring my intention.
The firmness could rival that of the Amano-Iwato.
「Are you saying you won’t eat my cooking?」
She stabs me with a sharp glint in her eyes that makes me think of a Chinese broadsword.
「I’ll-I’ll eat it, I said I’ll eat it!……*mrr*」
I pick up a piece of chicken and stuff it in my mouth.
However, Rin was not satisfied, the glint her eye became sharper and sharper.
「I am going to feed you so open that mouth!」
Like striking with a spear, the chicken was aimed at my mouth and put forth.
「Don’t avoid it, you!」
This was repeated some ten-odd times; Rin was striking more and more furiously, her twin tails shaking and rising up.
Rin simultaneously deployed the left and right shock cannon shoulder units of her IS 『Shenlong』.
「If I evade right or left――I will die」
This is bad, her eyes look serious!
「Eat my dishhhhhhh!」
Rin attacks with her chicken in a straight line.
Then, while it enters inside my mouth, shots from the shock cannons grazed my ears.
Cold sweat streams down my back.
「So? Isn’t it delicious? 」
She turns towards me with a perfect smile.
「It-It’s delicious, Rin……」
――And with that, the ten minutes with Rin was over.
「Now then, it’s time for what Ichika-san long waited for. Next is the home cooking of me, Cecilia Alcott! 」
*Wow*, *clap clap* *clap*
We moved places and arrived at a table in the school café.
With high class silk tablecloth that was probably Cecilia’s personal property.
（Cecilia’s cooking skills have become normal too so it should be fine）
I don’t have to think like that anymore.
I didn’t have to be so happy.
「This is today’s dish!」
There was a bang.
Was that a bang just now!?
Was that not like some cartoon sound effect and was physically heard!?
「Cecilia-san……? This bowl is……」
I had doubts about this object that seems to be a ramen bowl with a lid.
「Ufufu. Actually, I made the dish much more enjoyable ♪」
Ah, so that bang was.
――No, that’s not it!
「And, this huge feeler jutting out from gap between the lid and the bowl is……」
「Ufufu. Try to open it and E*N*J*O*Y♪」
Its looks like a crustacean.
Probably not a bug.
It looks ok in that regard.
I ready myself and pick up the lid.
The stench and steam cover my face.
「Arrrrrrrrgh! My eyes, my eyeeeeees!」
My eyes hurt!
What’s with this steam!?
「It’s Tom Yum Goong. Ichika-san might not know this but Tom means boiling, Yum is the mix and Goong is lobster」
I know that!
Anyway, what is this smell!?
The steam already hurts!
「I used a spiny lobster of the highest grade and other ingredients like cuttlefish, oyster, abalone, salmon and sea urchin, carefully cooking together all these that are the highest class in the world――」
「I understand! I understood that! Why is it red like this!?」
The Tom Yum Goong in front of me was bright red.
To say it was a deep crimson was no exaggeration.
I also see it’s somewhat shining.
The soup before me burns bright red.
Shining and shouting to eat me.
「Because capsaicin is good for a tired body, I used plenty of Bhut Jolokia as my pepper」
「Even if it’s Bhut Jolokia that is boasted as the world’s hottest, it shouldn’t be like this, right?」
「Because it’s a specially made Bhut Jolokia extract which was concentrated into a mash♪」
Cecilia was talking really happily.
It seems it’s not a lie she had fun cooking.
I also understand that there was no ill will.
She really has improved.
But she made the mistake of 『making a little arrangement』that is common among improving beginners in cooking.
(That- That- That’s not iiiitttt!)
This red thing is approaching before me with hotness three times more than normal.
Just like a red comet.
Lined up in Death’s row.
It is warped black and burning bright red.
「Will I die……」
Cecilia had a big smile on her face and passed me the spoon.
I take it and try to get one scoop of Tom Yum Goong.
「*clench*……. My fingers hurt……」
「Now, now, please don’t hold back」
I resigned myself to death.
「Oh my God!」
I toss the bright red soup into my mouth.
The pain that transcends pain!
It hurts, it hurts, it hurts!
The transcendent extremely hot soup spread all over in my mouth, burning the mucous membrane, roasting my tongue, killing my throat and piercing my stomach.
「*cough*! *cough*! *cough*! 」
Furthermore, the worst part is the steam from the extremely hot soup entered and choked my respiratory tract like hell.
Tears came out like rain.
「Oh my! Even Ichika-san is also deeply moved」
「Ha, haha, hahaha……」
I didn’t taste the high quality ingredients at all by the way.
―― I survived ten minutes with Cecilia somehow.
「You’re slow, Ichika!」
While sobbing like a baby, I barely managed to arrive at the cafeteria under the supervision of the waiting Houki.
Anyway, I couldn’t even say an excuse because each time I took a breath, the pain returned.
「Sorry……. Haa, haa, hah……」
「H-Hey. You’re sweating a lot. Are you alright?」
As expected, I thought I looked strange and Houki was looking at me with concern.
She suddenly got closer, for a moment, my heart skipped.
When I tried to hide my embarrassment by moving away, Houki got even closer.
The bulges of her chest pushing up her gym clothes bounced seductively.
「What’s with you. Say it!」
「Ugh……. My tongue hurts just hearing about it……」
「Ye-Yeah……Because of that, I think I won’t know what the taste is of anything I eat right now……」
Although it wasn’t really anyone’s fault, I bowed my head and apologized to Houki who took pains to prepare lunch.
「I’m sorry Houki」
「Hmph, no……you don’t have to…….Well, there’s always another chance to cook for someone」
She seemed somewhat embarrassed.
It was a little cute, I thought.
(I am strange after all……)
That was what I was thinking when Houki clapped her hands together.
「Oh!! I thought of something good, wait a minute!」
She says so and runs towards the service counter.
I kept panting like a dog to soothe my still smarting tongue even by just a little.
「Sorry for making you wait, Ichika」
Houki made me wait for a somewhat out-of-season shaved ice.
It was an Ujikintoki, the condensed milk hanging onto the small snowflakes; just looking at it cools my body.
「I asked you to do something unreasonable. If you eat this, will it lessen the hot taste? 」
「Wh-What is it?」
Houki laughs embarrassedly.
I was shocked again at her smiling face.
「Well, then, since there’s not much time left, thanks for the meal!」
I try to gloss over my awareness of Houki as a member of the opposite sex and devour the shaved ice greedily.
「H-Hey. If you eat that fast ――」
「Arrrgh, my head, ouch, my head!」
It’s what they call an ice cream headache.
First my stomach, now my head!
It’s some kind of torture.
「It’s because you ate so fast. Good grief」
Houki leans forward and naturally puts a hand on my forehead.
「Of course, it would hurt. Don’t overdo it」
I became embarrassed again at such tenderness and my eyes unintentionally went to the big bulges of her chest.
「Do it slowly」
「I-I got it」
While genuinely appreciative of Houki’s worry, I calmly ate the shaved ice this time.
――Just like that, ten minutes with Houki passed by.
「Finally……It’s my turn. Are you full, Ichika? 」
Kanzashi said so, taking out wafer-style sweet rolls.
「For a tired body, sugar……」
「Sugar? That’s true. If it’s a sweet roll, the amount of sugar isn’t something to worry about」
Kanzashi blankly spat out the sweet roll she was eating and had a coughing fit.
「I-Ichi-Ichika, you are amusing……」
My angel was here!?
My angel who swooped down to IS Academy!
「There’s a person who understands my gag……」
「Ichika, you’re shining……」
「Thank you, Kanzashi!」
I reflexively drew Kanzashi’s shoulders close to me.
Surprised by the sudden contact, Kanzashi raised a wild voice and escaped from me.
「I-Ichika……That was foul play……」
「Hmm? Hmm. I’m sorry?」
「Why the doubtfulness……」
No, no reason.
「Oh, I have something. Here」
Kanzashi took out a small bottle from her bag and showed it to me.
「Is that jam? Or honey? 」
「I……It’s currently in development, the super energy gel version three『Dokkora Shot』……I have more details on the WEB……」
Kanzashi said so and summoned an air display showing a web page.
Eh, there really is a web page for it!
It’s morniiing, it’s morniiing, it’s a braaand new morniiing.
Aaah, I overslept.
I don’t have time to eat too.
But it’s okay, with just one spoon of the Sarashiki brand super enery gel version three『Dokkora Shot』をスプーンで一杯。
*Wow*, you get enough of the daily necessary nutrients, essential amino acids and calories.
It’s amazing and delicious.
Start eating it.」
It’s Kanzashi doing a one-man puppet show in the display.
It’s too monotonous & expressionless and somewhat filled with various clutter.
It’s not a good direction.
「Next time, when promoting your business……I think……that you should keep trying」
「Is-is that so? I should repay you somehow」
I couldn’t say I think that it would be better if that movie did not exist.
「Anyway, Ichika……have some」
I see some kind of sparkling thing when the small bottle was opened.
Is this safe?
I timidly scoop some out with a spoon and see like a fluorescent pink starch syrup.
(There-There is another one with boldness like Cecilia’s!)
(Don’t-Don’t stare at me in silence!)
「Tha-Thanks for the meal……」
「It’s sweet! It’s absurdly sweet! 」
「The amount of sugar is important……」
No, the sugar that did not melt feels like grit on my tongue.
「The-the amount of sugar is safe……」
Kanzashi spurted information out again while I was shivering due to the sweetness.
――I felt I was saved when ten minutes had passed.
「Let’s see, is it Laura next by the lawn in the plaza?」
I run towards Laura over there and――Charl was there for some reason.
「Huh? Why you two? 」
When I asked the question, Laura nudged Charl with her elbow.
「Oh, uhh, well. I thought it would be better to combine the time with Laura and make it twenty minutes」
I feel this is against the rules somehow but Charl embarrassedly laughs it off.
「That’s what she said but it was Charlotte’s proposal. It didn’t come from me」
「Aahh, that’s mean Laura. Even though you agreed immediately! 」
「H-Hey, don’t say that out loud!」
「In the first place, Laura, it’s because you can’t properly prepare lunches, right?」
She was right on the mark and Laura is at a loss for words.
「What did you prepare Laura?」
She said so and immediately presented a packed object.
「……What is this? 」
「It’s a ration! It’s our German Army’s venerable military ration! 」
「Eh, this is, is it good?」
「Ah, the taste is irrelevant, the taste is!」
Oh, she dodged the question.
「So, it’s not good」
「Sh……Shut up, shut up! I wanted to properly prepare meat in the beginning! 」
I had a bad feeling somehow.
「What kind of meat?」
「It-It was……Snake meat……」
Do I sadly have to eat snake in this grand athletic meet?
「Eh, it has a very high nutritional value, you know?」
At any rate, it seems Laura was not able to prepare it.
The result then is the military ration, which in that case, I can agree that Charl was helping a friend in need.
「This is what I prepared」
Charl took out various colorful fruits from a basket.
「Oh, apple rabbits」
「I have orange cats, too. I also have a blueberry pie」
To be honest, I don’t want this much sugar right now but I think I can eat in this case.
「Well, here. Have some tea」
I received a cup of tea from a thermos and drink it.
「This is Darjeeling……Is it not? It’s somewhat different but it’s like Darjeeling」
「Ehehe. It’s an original blend」
Charl laughs happily.
I went along and laugh with her.
Having done that, Laura had an un-amused look on her face.
「Hmph……After all, I……After all, I……」
Laura is sulking.
I served the apple rabbits while thinking it was such a cute appearance.
Perhaps surprised by something sudden, Laura blushed.
「Haha. You’re cute, Laura」
「Wh-Wha Wha Wha, Wha Wha……!?」
It was retaliation for the thing with Rin awhile ago.
「Ah, how nice for you, Laura. Ichika, me too……please?」
「Eh, no, that’s……How do I say it? ……It’s a bit embarrassing when asked to do it again……」
Charl looks disappointed and Laura hangs her head in shame.
――Thus, the warm and pleasant twenty minutes slowly passed by.
Lunch time is over and I finally took a breath.
「Hehe, thanks for your hard work」
A cold sports drink is placed against my cheek.
「I’m really tired」
I gave a dirty look towards the root of evil but Tatenashi-san was not concerned at all.
「Now now, you don’t have to say it」
「……Okay but. By the way, Tatenashi-san? 」
Having a sudden thought, I bring up a subject to Tatenashi.
「Did you rest properly? Did you work a while ago too? 」
Tatenashi-san changed her expression to a surprised one when I said so.
「Eh, huh?……Did you see? 」
「……I was seen in the only place I did not want to be seen……」
「It’s-It’s nothing. Leaving that aside, Ichika-kun? Have you had a proper lunch? 」
I don’t really feel like eating when she said so.
Like I feel more tired than hungry.
「Well, my stomach is a bit empty」
「If that’s what you think then, Ta-da」
Tatenashi-san offered me a rice ball.
It was formed rice cooked fully loaded with the taste of fall.
It had various colours from shiitake mushrooms in Japanese chestnuts, oysters, carrots, burdock and konjac, having the nice smell of slightly burnt soy sauce.
It looks good!
「Hehe, do you want to eat it?」
「So, then, what should I make you do? 」
She winks teasingly and smiles at me.
……This person is at it again.
「Please give me」
「Yes yes. I’ll give it to you quickly」
She handed it over more obediently than I thought.
I stare at Tatenashi-san intently while being puzzled at the unexpected development.
「Er, I wonder what kind of trap is there……」
I was hit with a folding fan.
「How rude of you…….If you’re going to talk like that then return it」
Before Tatenashi-san can take it back, I stuff the rice ball in my mouth in one go.
「Ah, wait…….Savor it then eat it」
「Here, have tea」
It’s unbelievably delicious!
I grabbed Tatenashi-san’s hand while being deeply moved.
「It’s reeaally delicious! 」
「Is- Is that so? We-Well then, I’ll make it again some other time……」
I forcefully bowed my head on the spot and the chime signalling the start of the afternoon rang.
「Ah, Tatenashi-san, we have to go!」
I grab Tatenashi-san’s hand and start walking quickly.
「? What’s wrong? 」
It seems like Tatenashi-san just can’t calm down.
「Do you need the toilet?」