Early in the morning, at the break of dawn, Frire left the campus just in time to see the sunrise.
After the conversation between the student council president, the vice-president, and her, it was the turn of the defense forces, the security department, and the safety department to share information, after which they talked about their schedule moving forward. As such, everyone once again had to pull another all-nighter.
The ever sleep-deprived student council staff seemed to have slept, but that wasn’t possible for her.
She had been busy dealing with the aftermath of the battle ever since the end of the incident, but for some reason, she just couldn’t sleep, so she thought of going out of the campus to move her body, but when she did, she realized that someone had come before her.
In front of the staff entrance was a boy dressed in a black uniform rarely seen in Kutoria.
He looked like he had something to say when he saw Frire, but he struggled to find the words, and in the end, fell silent.
Why was he here? Where did that unreserved attitude of his gone?
She looked around them to check if there was anyone else here, but the two of them were alone.
She didn’t know what he came here for, but she could more or less tell that he came here for her.
Despite appearances, she has still been teaching here for 3 years already, and she had seen her share of troubled students that couldn’t express what they had on mind.
But when she thought of that face appearing on this boy, a smile appeared on her.
It wasn’t because it didn’t suit him, but it was precisely because it suited him that it was so funny.
It was to the point that she suspected his usual attitude merely being the result of his excessive shyness with people.
In fact, that actually sounded about right, which made this even funnier for her.
“…Hey. Don’t laugh while looking at a person’s face.”
“Fu fu, sorry, but… You came at a good time. I’ll go first.”
That’s why she decided to speak her mind first. She figured it would be easier for her to just talk than wait for him to broach whatever he had on mind.
Of course, it was also true that there was something she urgently needed to inform him.
“Only the fingerprints of Omega Team showed up on their equipment,” Frire said.
“Huh?” Shinichi said.
“—Or at least, I somehow managed to make that the case.”
Those words were enough to tell him what she’d done, what she knew, and what she’d inferred.
Seeing Shinichi’s eyes blinking repeatedly with that dumbfounded look on his face made Frire laugh even more.
To think the man that shocked the world could make a face like this, and that the reason would be none other than her…
When she thought of that, she found the situation really funny, or perhaps, something to be proud of, but while she might have been calm enough to think about such things, Shinichi was making all sorts of hilarious faces in his shock.
One moment there was shock, then in the next, there was anger, then all of the sudden, apology, then confusion, then worry, and then after another cycle of all of the above, he exhaled.
“…Thank you, Frire.”
And with a smile on his face, he looked into her eyes and thanked her sincerely.
Not expecting such a straightforward response, this time it was Frire’s turn to be shocked and become flustered.
“Wha, ah, err… Call me teacher when in school!”
For some reason, she replied in that brusque manner without looking straight at him as though she’d lost.
She knew how uncharming such an attitude was, but the boy didn’t seem to mind.
A tinge of favor could be seen in his eyes as he looked at her, making the situation even more embarrassing for her.
She didn’t even realize that she’d just indirectly given him permission to call her without suffix outside of school.
“Ok, teacher. But you know, we may have had a promise, but I don’t recall ever asking you to go that far. You do realize that even you would be done for if this were to come out, right?”
Apparently, he wasn’t done cycling through all those faces of his, and with an unhappy face, he pointed that out.
As it turns out, that was a more important issue to him than his identity coming to light.
It was a complicated feeling, and she didn’t know whether to find such a thing astonishing or amusing, but his concern was by no means a bad thing.
“Don’t worry, only one person knows that I approached the confiscated goods. The security were turned off, and the one person that knows isn’t doubting me one bit. Besides…”
Frire paused, then looked at Shinichi with a serious expression.
But her gaze was not sharp, and there was a tinge of gentleness to it.
“…You protected your promise to protect all the children. You even protected all of Kutoria’s residents. No, I’m sure you protected even more people than that. You risked so much, just this isn’t enough to repay you for all you’ve done.”
Given what he’d accomplished, destroying a little bit of evidence was nothing.
Shinichi was dumbfounded for a moment, but he quickly remarked about how honest she was and laughed.
“…You exaggerate. I may have protected them, but at most, all I did was fight with those Delta guys.”
“Don’t lie. The records you tampered with were left behind. The way you moved the enemy and the students to minimize danger was really remarkable. Even the students worst off only ended up like that because Delta ignored their orders. Moreover, you even left behind someone to protect the campus.”
It was curious if it was out of guilt or modesty that Shinichi denied her praise the way he did, but regardless, Frire immediately shot down any notion of belittling what his accomplishments.
Also, based off Gamma Team’s accounts, it was believed that the mysterious beastwoman that defeated Gamma Team was Masquerade’s subordinate in school.
Shinichi shrugged his shoulders to sidestep the implication behind those words, but such actions were somewhat comical in front of someone who knew him.
Apparently, they both thought so, as student and teacher alike ended up breaking into laughter.
No, it would be more apt to say that they were two friends sharing a laugh.
“…So, can I hear your conditions now? You were busy last night too, so there’s no way you would have come here without any reason.”
She figured it would be best to just hear it from the horse’s mouth.
How did he take that question? For a moment, a hesitant expression appeared on his face, then he looked at Frire’s face once more, muttered something, and this time, a difficult face replaced the hesitation.
“What a terrible face…” Shinichi muttered.
“Hmm? Did you say something?” Frire asked.
“No, I was thinking of leaving it until later, but… Do you want to resume the morning spars?” Shinichi asked.
“What!?” Frire exclaimed.
When she heard those words, it was almost as though she’d completely forgotten about the previous exchange and she immediately nodded repeatedly, her eyes shining like that of a child before a toy.
Shinichi’s cheeks twitched a little at that, wondering if he might’ve been too rash.
The field had been under thorough investigation since the conclusion of the incident.
After all, skill inhibitors and illegal dimensional energy convergence devices had been installed right under their noses.
They had to quickly remove all of those, while also checking if the terrorists had installed anything else.
They couldn’t afford to leave anything the terrorists had installed.
But that also meant that an unprecedented number of people had to enter the fields, and despite how early it was, there were already several teams investigating the vast fields.
As such, the place they chose for their sparring session was an area that had been cleared two days ago.
To be doubly sure, Frire also informed various departments that she would like to borrow the area for her training.
She had to go through so much trouble, but she was so happy that their spars were finally resuming that she didn’t mind.
But the usual flow of events did not happen during their spar.
In a rare display, the moment they drew their swords, the boy took a step, and with a momentum akin to that of a leap, drew a vertical line from high above.
Frire immediately swung her blade sidewards to receive that blow with her own, but the weight of that sword was so great that her feet sunk 10cm into the ground.
Though she’d succeeded in blocking the attack, a wave of numbness ran through her.
The warrior switch inside her was flicked.
Swinging her sword with all her might, she deflected Shinichi, and then took a step forward.
The series of movement was as swift as the wind, but after being sent flying, Shinichi rotated midair, then met Frire’s attack.
Crossing blades with such unstable footing should’ve been disadvantageous to Shinichi with his lower Strength.
Yet despite that, neither she nor he budged an inch as the resulting shockwaves from their crossed swords shook the air.
What moved instead was his free hand as he aimed a red pistol at her.
Frire immediately held one hand up to cover her face, but the impact that assaulted her next was a powerful wind that pressed down on her entire body.
Her foster’s barrier took it on, but the load was too great, and it was forced to shutdown temporarily.
Forced to block the remaining power with her Resistance, Frire couldn’t move.
Shinichi did not miss that opening, and he mowed down her wide-opened body.
Frire groaned out in pain, but the boy continued to kick the same place, and this time, Frire was sent flying into the air.
Despite being sent flying with a kick, Frire was smiling.
As she immediately fixed her posture and landed without trouble, the boy wielded his blade over his shoulder and looked at her sharply.
“H-Ha ha ha!”
When she saw that, for some reason, she laughed.
The jersey made out of durable textile made for teachers was torn all over.
Most of that was because of that powerful wind that assaulted her, but the cut on her stomach and its thin layer of skin was especially beautiful.
And when she saw the mark left by the great power behind his foot, the shock she felt went up a whole new level to the point that she started laughing.
“So you can fight like this too,” she said.
She had a feeling this was the case.
He’d always relied on tactics that utilized a tricky and counter-based approach through a variety of skills and equipment, but she’d always felt that that wasn’t all he had, yet never once did she dream that he might actually possess the power to take her on in a straight up fight.
“The way we usually fight is fine too, but it takes too long,” Shinichi said. “To defeat an
Frire couldn’t fathom what was going on in his mind to show her this.
No, to be more precise, she couldn’t remain calm enough to think about such complicated things.
“Fu fu fu.”
Without her intending to, her cheeks loosened on their own.
‘I want to fight more.’ ‘I want to use all my power.’
‘If it’s him, then I can fight without limiting myself.’
Powerless before such thoughts, her heart shook, her body quivered in glee, and heat filled her.
“…Your fans would faint if they saw that. Your face, that is.”
It was too scary, the boy implied, but the girl was too heated up to notice that.
Her eyes saw only him, and as she dropped her sword into a low stance, she dropped her waist and bent forward.
“Let’s go. Don’t die on me,” Shinichi said.
“Don’t be stupid, that’s my line,” Frire said.
As she shot back with a grin, she shot off like an arrow.