I came back but the world is still a fantasy!? – Garesto Academy – Exam Arc: Epilogue – Those Who Take Advantage of the Test – 04-41: In the Shadows of Earth and Garesto II (1/5)

“After all that bustle, maybe I’m the stupid one for still treating you like this.”

The boy grumbled as he rested his back on the roots of a tree and stretched out his legs.

As he let out an exhausted breath and looked down, there could be seen a woman sleeping on his lap.

With the school overcoat in place of a comforter, the woman breathed normally.

Because she was facing upwards, her bountiful chest would heave up and down, giving the boy an eyeful.

“…What are you sleeping so happily for?”

Shinichi asked, but his eyes were smiling as he watched over her defenseless face.

That was enough to bring a gentle smile on his somewhat exhausted face.

Though the softness he was able to enjoy until now was able to reward him as well, the sight of her sleeping like this was a reward he felt he didn’t deserve.

Of course, neither was really praiseworthy.

After leaving the crater with Frire on his back, Shinichi skillfully employed his abilities to fill the giant hole, and then went to an area overgrown with trees that Shirayuki led him to.

To hide from people’s eyes, he sat on the roots of a large tree and laid Frire down.

He too was letting out exhausted breaths, but the sunlight pouring through the trees and the pleasant winds engendered a place just perfect for resting.

〈 Warning, your actions have been judged as voyeurism. 〉

If not for the scathing remarks that the AI would make from time to time, it really would have been perfect.

Shinichi unnaturally dropped his shoulders and reached out for Frire’s beautiful white hair.

“You really want to make me out to be a criminal, don’t you? Well, fine, I won’t turn down the opportunity.”

Despite looking fed up, Shinichi rubbed Frire’s head to his heart’s content.

〈 Sexual harassment. Sexual harassment. The possibility that this might be the precursor to a more forceful obscenity also cannot be denied. The suspect himself has also made statements that can be taken as a confession. This is a crime. 〉

“So what if you think it’s a crime? Are you going to sue me again? Going to report me?”

〈 Negative. No hostility can be felt from the target, and no discomfort can be felt from the master either. It is also my duty to record any interesting events that happen to the Master.〉

Although the voice of the AI remained monotonous and unconcerned, the things it was saying didn’t actually differ all that much from Shinichi.

As one might expect, not even Shinichi could predict that an AI would say something so outrageous, and he found himself blinking his eyes.

“Are you supposed to protect her? Or are you meant to tease her? Which is it?”

〈 I have been programmed to do both. It is a contradiction at times, but teasing the master is the priority, so there are no problems—〉

“Hey.”

As one might expect, even Shinichi found that to be a questionable attitude given that she was Frire’s exoskeleton.

But Shirayuki continued in the same unconcerned voice and revealed the truth.

〈—Or at least that’s how I’ve been programmed to response. Apologies. 〉

“…What a great personality you have. Tell me, just what kind of bastard made you for you to turn out like this?”

〈 That would be the master’s good friend. She chiefly works as a military physician, but she’s a brilliant talent that stands at the top of AI researchers. I have it on record that she is a cool beauty that looks good in glasses. 〉

“…With an explanation like that, she made you alright.”

〈 Regretfully, I must thank you for those words. 〉

The way the AI showed her understanding in that fed up manner surprised Shinichi. He didn’t think the AI would actually be so advanced in her communication skills.

A part of him also felt like such advanced technology was being used needlessly, but regardless, upon the revelation of the good friend that made Shirayuki, he didn’t know anymore whether Frire was blessed with friends or not, though that did not stop him from playing with her hair to his heart’s content.

“That’s a surprise. I didn’t think this girl had it in her to have a friend other than that spy.”

〈 Indeed. Earth year AD 2022, June 6 10:26 PM, two names confirmed to be—〉

“—Shirayuki!!”

Although it was a little too late, Frire suddenly raised up her body to interject, and with a face flushed deep red, she told the AI not to say anything unnecessary.

It is interesting to note that despite her actions the overcoat on her did not slip due to being caught by her chest.

Shinichi let out a voice of admiration and clapped at that.

“D-Don’t stare!”

Knowing exactly where the boy’s eyes were pointed, she blushed even more, but she couldn’t afford to strip off the overcoat either because all she had on was her inner suit.

At a loss what to do, she covered her chest with her arms, but that only emphasized them even more.

“You really don’t realize just how destructive that pose is, do you? …I’m happy, though.”

〈 This is perhaps the consequence of excessive carelessness. 〉

The AI and the boy each sighed in disbelief, while Frire, who has had enough, yelled out, not realizing her face was beet red.

“D-Don’t just do whatever you want just because you think the person is sleeping!”

From her perspective, when she came to, she was lying on the lap pillow of a man and her head was being caressed.

In that moment, she had completely stopped thinking, but even then, she couldn’t afford to let Shirayuki run her mouth.

But…

“But you woke up halfway through and didn’t say anything.”

〈 That was deemed that to be tacit consent. 〉

Apparently, these two had known that she was awake.

They didn’t show even the slightest hint of guilt and just made excuses for their actions.

“If you realized I was awake, then stop! This is your first time meeting, and yet you’re already in sync with each other!?”

She was shocked to find out that they’d known, but she still yelled because she didn’t want to lose.

She knew instinctively that if she were to show weakness here, she would only be taken advantage of.

But it was another story whether her spirited response would work.

“Well, there’s no need to be so worked up. Come, rest a bit more.”

“Huh? Wait, uwaa!?”

Sure enough he didn’t even hesitate to pull on his uniform’s sleeves.

With the uniform so tightly held by her chest, she was brought back down to her previous position.

For a moment, she wondered what had happened, but very quickly, her face turned beet red as shock set in, and she started howling once more.

“Y-You!”

She wanted to raise her body up again, but Shinichi was holding onto the overcoat, so she couldn’t.

Frire protested against that as she looked up at the boy, but the boy paid her no heed.

“To tell you the truth, I enjoy both giving and receiving lap pillows.”

In fact, the boy suddenly started talking about something else.

“Huh?”

“I did treat you to a lot of extra service during our mock battle, didn’t I? I was hoping to at least get this much of a reward.”

Although that wasn’t a direct request, it was still too blunt. Did he really understand what he was saying?

Given that grin on his face, however, it was likely he acted like this precisely because he knew how to deal with her.

“…Coward, if you tell me that, there’s no way I’ll be able to refuse, is there?”

As the person here who owed him, that was an act she could only contest through embarrassment.

In the first place, she never believed that just hiding his identity was enough compensation for everything he’s done.

There was no reason to refuse him, but she couldn’t just honestly agree to it either, so she folded her arms and angrily rested her back onto him.

When Shinichi felt her weight on his thighs, he smiled.

For the sake of his reputation, let it be known that the reason for his smile was not her chest.

Rather he simply enjoyed receiving and entrusting this weight.

“…U, ah… u…”

Because of that the gaze that fell on her was gentle and soft, and Frire found herself looking around restlessly.

She was just too unfamiliar with a gaze like that. It was much more embarrassing than she could’ve ever imagined.

“A-Ahh… But, are you really okay with this kind of compensation? I’ve never given or received a lap pillow before, so I don’t really know.”

At the very least, she wanted to divert the attention of the boy, so she asked that question.

But of course, it was also true that she truly wondered if this little compensation was really enough.

And yet the words that reached her next were gentle and full of satisfaction.

“I’ve… always liked this. Entrusting this weight, being entrusted this weight. All the more so when it’s a good woman like you.”

“Eh? Ehhhhh— Hau!?”

For a moment, Frire looked around her, but the only woman here was her.

When she belatedly realized that he was referring to her, and noticed that he wasn’t teasing her, not to mention that he said it so smoothly, her face turned a deeper shade of red.

“I-I-I know it’s weird to being saying this myself, but just which part of me is a good woman!?”

To cover up how much his words had affected her, she asked that in a stammer.

Frire was not saying that out of humility. She truly didn’t think much of herself as a woman.

As an adult and a teacher lacking in too many areas, she never really had any confidence in herself.

Though she was beautiful and had an amazing figure, her internal issues put all of that to waste.

But…

“Well, first of all, you’re so honest and sincere that you actually surprised me – that’s why I trust you. Regardless of the circumstances, you always take your work seriously – I respect that. You knew about my circumstances, but you still tried to get to know me – that made me happy. Although you have a troubling addiction to combat, I think it’s still respectable that you’re able to restrain it out of consideration for others. You’re timid in the strangest places, but that just makes others want to protect you, so it’s actually not a bad thing at all. Not to mention, the way you look when you work hard while knowing your weaknesses is really cute, ugu!?”

“—Enough! I get it already!”

Shinichi fluently enumerated Frire’s good points.

He said everything without so much as a pause and in a serious tone no less. In the end, it was Frire who folded first.

With her face as red as a boiled octopus, she reached out with her hands to cover Shinichi’s mouth.

“T-That’s the first time anyone’s told me something like that…”

“Whatch a wasthe.”

“Kyaa, don’t talk, it’s ticklish!”

“…Dhen letch me gho.”

Shinichi didn’t care one bit that her hands were covering his mouth, and once again, it was Frire, who couldn’t endure another person’s breath on her palms, that folded.

However, she did make sure to tell him not to talk about her anymore.

“Whew… That sort of naivety scores really high with me too, though.”

As though to say that she really was worth teasing, Shinichi grinned at her.

Realizing that there would be no winning an argument with Shinichi, she decided to just hide her red face that had boiled over by glaring at him from below and covering half her face with his overcoat.

But it was precisely because she was the sort to just groan reproachfully in protest like that that Shinichi’s smile grew even deeper.

“Fu fu… And yet despite everything, you still won’t stop me. You really do know how to make me happy.”

“That’s the best part about you,” he muttered too quietly for her to hear as he caressed her head.

Despite battling with embarrassment, Frire did not reject Shinichi’s hands.

Regardless how embarrassing she found the act, she would not stop the lap pillow(reward) now that she’s agreed to it.

Was that because or her sincerity? Her diligence? Or merely because of her nervous temperament? Regardless, Shinichi found that side of hers really charming.

“S-Sheesh… How could you treat an adult like a kid…”

“I’m not. I’m treating a woman like a woman.”

“Y-You… Ahh, sheesh! I can’t beat you in a fight or in words! You’re the worst!”

“Ha ha, I know.”

She glared at him with frustration, but he just laughed.

Like that, time quietly flowed with one side groaning and glaring, while the other did as he pleased.

Shinichi watched over her with a gentle expression as he enjoyed the touch of her.

But as their quiet time continued, a certain question gradually begged itself.

“…By the way, don’t you think a certain someone is strangely quiet?”

Yes, there was another person here who had been speaking before Frire returned to her lap pillow, wasn’t there?

And yet that person was now eerily quiet.

“Now that you mention it… Hey, Shirayuki, why are you being so quiet?”

〈 I am presently in REC-mode, and as such, have decided to refrain from joining the conversation. 〉

“…You really did it,” Shinichi said.

“R-REC?” Frire asked.

Unlike Shinichi, who immediately understood what she meant, Frire was just confused.

From the looks of things, the term wasn’t in her translation software.

And it is likely that Shirayuki intentionally used the term because of that.

“It means she’s recording. Where did you learn that word from anyway?”

〈 A part of my memory space is always connected to the internet and is gathering information. 〉

“Or so you say. I bet you’ve been getting a lot of unnecessary information from there.”

After all, that was an expression that could mean something else in a different video site.

But unlike Shinichi, who remained calm, Frire panicked when she realized that Shirayuki was recording.

“Recording? This? H-Hey, Shirayuki! Stop! Delete that video right now!”

〈 Regretfully, I must decline to obey. This is an order from a user with much greater privileges than the master. 〉

“Who would have more privileges than me!?”

Shirayuki was developed specifically for Frire, so it was her exclusive exoskeleton.

Normally, the owner of such an exoskeleton would have the highest privileges with the built-in AI.

She has never heard of anyone having higher privileges than her with Shirayuki.

All the more so when…

〈 That would be my maker. Who ordered that a video be taken should the master become intimate with a man. 〉

“Sandraaa—!!”

The person in question was none other than one of her few friends, whom she’d entrusted to develop Shirayuki.

Though she remained unmoving on her lap pillow, she still ended up yelling out loud the name of that friend while holding her head.

“…Hmm… I know it’s weird coming from me, but… You should choose better friends,” Shinichi said.

“I know… I’m really regretting it right now!”

Of the two friends she had, one was a criminal, and the other was like this.

It was such a tragedy that anyone would have dropped their shoulders in dejection.

But as far as friends went, Shinichi didn’t really have the right to preach. A tinge of compassion surfaced on his eyes.

“Friends, huh.”

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