As it turns out, he’d dozed off while they were talking. But given the consecutive trainings, the spars in early morning, the monitoring of the world, and the procedures he had to go through last night to make this flight, it wasn’t really a surprise.
“Hmm? What’s the matter? Go ahead and sleep, we still have time until we arrive.”
She knew some of his circumstances, so she didn’t try to wake him up.
Though even if she did try, the creature on his lap would just threaten her to stop her, but her consideration was not without reward, as it did win her some points with Youko.
Shinichi wasn’t clear headed when he woke up, so he just spoke what was on his mind.
“Can I go back?”
“…That came out of the blue, but no.”
He figured that would be the case, but he still had to say it.
Because that ‘dream’ just now was clearly different from the usual.
It was the sort of dream that suggested that something troublesome was about to happen.
“I had a strange dream, and I have a feeling something bad is about to happen again, so I want to go back.”
“You can’t go home just because of a dream! And what do you mean by ‘again’!?”
Frire retorted when Shinichi gave that ridiculous reasoning, but his attention had already turned to their surroundings.
Although he was still groggy, he at least had to know who was around him.
Though given how docile Youko was being, it was evident that whoever was nearby was friendly, so this was less him being wary and more a simple confirmation, but then another question begged itself.
After all, he had sat himself right in the middle of the sofa before dozing off, but that sofa was now crowded.
“Why is this place packed with women all of the sudden? Not that I’m complaining, mind you. Being surrounded by beautiful women is always a delight.”
But of course, not a hint of complaint could be seen on his face, and in fact, there was even a hint of a forced conceited smile on him.
“…You know, if that’s the sort of stuff that comes out of your mouth as soon as you wake up, you might actually be sick, Icchi.”
Myuhi Ruona was sitting next to the window.
She looked at him with eyes half-closed, but her fox ears were twitching.
“Beautiful? Me? My, it’s an honor to have your praise, Shinichi-san.”
On the other side gracefully sat Aristel F. Padyuel with cheeks blushed.
Though embarrassed from the bottom of her heart, she took care not to let her luxurious ringlet curls fall onto Shinichi.
“I-I feel so out of place. I can’t believe you can act so naturally despite being surrounded by people like these.”
Sitting on an empty spot in the sofa facing them was Tomoe Safina.
Apparently, sitting with the top teacher and the top students has left her a nervous wreck.
She wasn’t affected by Shinichi’s praise because she didn’t think he was referring to her.
“They came because they were worried about you. They said they had business with me, so I couldn’t turn them down.”
Or at least, that’s how the teacher, Frire Doneju, that was sitting from right in front of him put it.
There was a happy smile on her as she explained their visit to Shinichi.
Apparently, she was happy that they came here on their own volition to check up on him.
Shinichi found it hard to honestly accept that given how few friends she had herself, but it was not something he could pursue in front of all these students.
Even Shinichi had some semblance of compassion. And by the way, Frire also didn’t think she was among those beautiful women that Shinichi mentioned.
“Is that the case for the both of you too?”
“Well, I did have something I wanted to give you.”
“And we’d obviously be a little concerned when you take us along in that manner.”
Shinichi called out to the two men sitting on a different sofa.
As someone from a different department and year, this was the only opportunity for Wernher Braun to hand him his weapons without drawing unwanted attention, while Shinguuji Ryou – for some reason – contacted Tomoe because he believed it was his duty to bring Tomoe to this place full of top female students.
That’s also why Tomoe ended up here even though there was no way for her to have heard what happened during boarding.
“Oh, right, Icchi, are you thirsty? The in-flight service here is automatic, look.”
Myuhi said as she pressed a button by the elbow rest.
In the next moment, a tray rose from the floor.
On it was a plastic cup filled with the beverage of her choice.
Shinichi and Youko were stunned, but everyone else was unconcerned.
He found it hard to describe how he felt about the way they so needlessly applied technology.
For some reason, Myuhi picked it up first, and then handed it to Shinichi.
From the smell and the color of the liquid, it was likely apple juice. Shinichi drank it.
As expected of a VIP seat, the quality of the juice was worlds apart from what you would find at a vending machine.
As the juice moistened his throat, he found himself in admiration of the refreshing taste and aroma.
“By the way────” Myuhi said.
“Hmm?” Shinichi said.
He drank it with relish as he looked at Myuhi, and as though she were waiting for that, Myuhi smiled and asked.
“BUGU!? *Cough, cough! What!?!?”
That was a name that should’ve never made its way out of her lips, and when it did, Shinichi broke into a violent cough.
He was just too shocked – and what was a rare sight that was for the people gathered here.
His shock was especially big because he couldn’t figure out how she learned that name.
“You know it’s kind of amazing when you think about it. There’s these many women gathered around him, and yet the name that comes out of his mouth belongs to a different woman.”
“Well, he was asleep, so it can’t be helped, but then again, I’m sure he’s the type to drop a name like that even if he knew. Normally all hell would break lose, but… It’s him, so nothing.”
The two boys, that have been watching from afar, nodded their heads in agreement with a dismayed gaze as though this wasn’t their first time interacting with each other.
In fact, before Shinichi woke up, the entire time he kept calling out Stella’s name, the air was really heavy, so they were glad to be finally spared from that. Though it might be that they were just relieved that they could final push the problem onto the person responsible for that mess.
“W-Wait a moment, was I talking in my sleep!?”
“You sure were, you kept calling out that name so desperately too,” Myuhi said.
“You said some other stuff too, but I couldn’t make anything out other than the name,” Aristel said.
Shinichi was embarrassed that they overheard him sleep talking, but he was also relieved that the only thing they could make out was a name.
He looked at Youko just to be sure, and she wryly smiled and nodded.
Apparently, he really didn’t say anything else.
“So, who’s Stella?” Tomoe asked.
“Maybe she’s… Icchi’s girlfriend?” Myuhi speculated.
It might’ve been partly because the others were tense too, but Tomoe unhappily and bluntly brought up the question, while Myuhi pointed out a controversial possibility with a smile.
Aristel kept quiet, but all of her attention was focused on him.
Normally, a 15 year-old boy wouldn’t be able to endure
As for Frire, she was completely oblivious to the change in the air.
“Nothing of the sort, she’s…”
Though it was in a different world, Shinichi had already experienced being surrounded and badgered by a lot of women.
That’s why he didn’t allow himself to become impatient and tried to answer as normally as he could, but the words wouldn’t come out.
Shinichi closed his mouth and placed his hand on his chin – an easily recognizable pose of contemplation – and gradually tilted his head.
“…Huh? Come to think of it, what kind of relationship do we have?”
“Icchi, we’re the one asking.”
Myuhi was stupefied by Shinichi’s response, but he was dead serious.
He had no idea how to express his relationship with Stella.
She was a maid, but she wasn’t his maid, so it wouldn’t be apt to label their relationship as such, and he couldn’t find anything among his relationships that could describe theirs.
“It’s kind of hard to explain… If you could see her, I feel like you’d understand, but…’
Even Youko let out a cry from his lap and tilted her head.
She too couldn’t think of the words to describe the relationship between Stella and her master.
She never had to think about it until now because everything made sense just by seeing them together.
Master and servant alike pondered the question in the same pose, so the people around them knew that Shinichi was telling the truth.
At this rate, they would make no progress, so they went ahead and started asking directly.
“…Umm, maybe she’s your lover?” Myuhi asked.
“Nope. I don’t think that’s it,” Shinichi said.
“In that case, wouldn’t you be friends?” Aristel said.
“I’m pretty sure she’d hate it if I called her that…”
──I see, so I’m a friend.
──Since you’re the one saying it, I suppose that must be the case.
“…Yep, I could easily imagine her sulking with that expressionless face.”
Indeed, Youko seemed to agree.
Stella might appear intelligent because her face was always expressionless, but she was actually a childish person.
Unfortunately, the intimacy of their relationship that could be gleamed from Shinichi’s expression caused the air to freeze, and the other two boys started to quiver.
“I-In that case, it must be that stereotypical more-than-friends-less-than-lovers relationship?” Myuhi asked.
“What’s with the stereotypical? …Well, it might be something like that,” Shinichi said.
Myuhi tried poking from that direction, but the unexpected response led her to raise her voice.
Shinichi didn’t mind that one bit, however, and just tilted his head.
“But I think it’s still not quite right.”
It was close, but it seemed to be fundamentally off somewhere.
Shinichi racked his head trying to find an answer, then he suddenly clapped his hands.
“Ah, I think it’s a
“That’s a pretty big range to cover, no!?”
Shinichi was happy with that answer, but it was a bolt out of the blue to everyone else.
So much so that even those other than Myuhi felt like throwing a tsukkomi.
Even Frire, who was oblivious to the change in the air, was dumbfounded.
“A m-married couple… So there’s a person that much ahead of me,” Aristel said.
“Either way your relationship seem really close… No wonder you’re so used to women,” Tomoe said.
Aristel was surprised by the revelation, but she clenched her fists and resolved to amend this problem from here on, while Tomoe came to an understanding of her own despite appearing disinterested.
But the person himself still wasn’t fully happy with that expression, so he tilted his head and came up with another answer.
“…Ah, I know! It’s like the relationship with an ex-wife!”
“Kyu kyu kyu!”
That’s it! Youko agreed, and everyone else found themselves blinking.
Even the two boys that have been ignoring everything until now were speechless.
Such a description was just far too removed for a high school student.
But it seemed that he and Youko thought otherwise and found the description perfect.
“…That just makes it even more confusing, Icchi.”
That’s why everyone other than Shinichi and Youko thought that.
Myuhi was trying to poke fun at Shinichi, but she just ended up exhausted instead.
A relationship that was more-than-comrades-in-arms-but-less-than-a-married-couple and was also akin to the relationship between ex-spouses.
It was so far removed from them that not one of them could understand.
But it was doubtful if even people not so removed could even understand a relationship like that.
“But why did I see that dream
Amidst all the commotion and confusion, Shinichi quietly muttered that question to himself.
He tried to deduce what the dream might have been trying to tell him, but in the end couldn’t find an answer.