“I gotta hand it to this hotel, though I guess you’d expect as much from one patronized by the school, but they actually have a gym geared toward Status users and two multipurpose halls that are basically gyms,” Ryou said.
“The ceiling isn’t that high since it’s indoors, but they were still spacious enough for about a dozen people to practice separately,” Tomoe said.
“Doesn’t mean you should gang up on me with the members of your club, though. That’s just bullying.”
“If we didn’t do that much, it wouldn’t have been training for both of us, would it?”
“Consider the difference in abilities, sheesh,” Tomoe said.
In fact, while Ryou did feel like he had been ganged up on, he had never really overwhelmed, and he just considered the exchange as an exercise in maintaining the upper hand and understanding the movements of multiple opponents.
Conversely, Tomoe saw the combat training with Ryou as an opportunity to improve herself. As such, both of them were able to gain valuable experience. Ryou was unable to find the right words to express that realization, so his shoulders slumped from a sense of defeat despite having won in their spar, while Tomoe had a smug expression on her as she acted triumphantly despite her defeat.
However, she suddenly looked back, seemingly drawn to the torrential rain pouring outside.
“…What’s the matter? Is there something mixed in with the rain?” Ryou said.
Suddenly, a tense voice broke through their previous conversation, and it carried an unspoken warning that something unpleasant might be happening. However, Tomoe shook her head in response.
“It’s got nothing to do with the rain… I don’t really get it, but it feels as though someone’s troubled? Worried perhaps? I don’t know. No one’s calling me in particularly, but there’s this presence…” Tomoe said.
It felt like some sort of intuition akin to that of an exorcist. A mysterious emotion slowly welled up in her chest, like the protective instinct one might feel upon finding a lost child right in front of them.
“What is that supposed to mean?” Ryou said.
“Like I said, I don’t understand it all that well either. I didn’t notice it while training either—” Tomoe said.
Ryou tilted his head in confusion, not understanding what she meant. Tomoe responded, agreeing that she also didn’t get it, but, once again, she became fixated on a particular point. Unlike the feeling she experienced earlier, which was related to something she sensed, this time her reaction was a mere sense of suspicion toward something she’d seen.
“What is it this time? …Ah, whatever. You two, if you’re free, then why not train as well? We’re done already, and there weren’t many people when we were there,” Ryou said.
The twins, who were aware of the existence of supernatural abilities, were watching Tomoe’s strange behavior, wondering if something had happened. However, Ryou just suddenly brushed it off as if it were nothing and even encouraged them to do the same. During this exchange, it seemed like there was some kind of signal between the two men, but it might have just been their imagination.
“Let’s go, Nee-chan. It’s not like we’ll be able to go out in this weather anyway, so we might as well move our bodies. Since we have time, then we might as well use it productively,” Yousuke said.
“That might not be a bad idea. Fudonecchi and the others look like they’re doing fine too, though they’ll likely take some more time before they finish,” Myuhi said.
“…Right. Waiting doesn’t suit me anyway. Let’s go then. I’ll go to the room and change into my tracksuit first, so you go ahead and save us a spot,” Youko said.
“Yes, yes, Nee-sama,” Yousuke said.
Seemingly satisfied with the exaggerated nod of her younger brother despite his tone, Youko nodded and went back to her room via the elevator.
Upon seeing her gone, Yousuke sighed in relief, then he went to the multipurpose hall on his own.
“Oho, who would’ve thought that our Guu-chan would learn the ability to be considerate!?” Myuhi said.
“Shut it. There’s a limit to how forceful a person can be, you know. Yousuke asked me to help avoid letting them meet each other as much as possible,” Ryou said.
“I see,” Myuhi nodded with a troubled smile, but that quickly changed into one of amusement as she approached Tomoe.
But of course, her eyes didn’t look one bit amused.
“So, what’s the matter, Tomotomo? Why are your eyes so hostile?”
Pointing this out, it was Ryou who was the most surprised, and he followed the gaze of his childhood friend. Down the lobby, they spotted a single boy in a school uniform – a sight they were all too familiar with.
The sudden change in weather and minor disruptions in transportation had caused changes in their plans, but thanks to someone who had considered such possibilities from the beginning, everything had gone smoothly.
Although only Frire and Shirayuki knew the full story, including the preparations, communications, and the fine details, the situation has reached a point where she needed the help of a certain student representative and her servants.
“─────With this, we should be able to somehow make it, Teachers.”
Thanks to their cooperation, they were able to put things into order. All they needed to do now was to hear out the detailed reports from the contacted parties. When Aristel said that with a smile, some of the teaching staff were drawn in by the charm behind it, while others were overwhelmed by its strength.
“T-Thank you, Padyuel-san, you and your team were a huge help.”
“Not at all. It’s all thanks to Teacher Doneju’s plans which took into consideration the possibility of such a strong downpour, right, Teacher?”
“Y-Yes… That’s true. Ha ha, it’s nothing special.”
“Ufufu”, Aristel laughed.
When Frire heard that laugh, she instinctively realized, that she’s been found out already and could only wryly smile in response.
Fortunately or unfortunately, the only other person who noticed was Teacher Satou, who had secured a seat opposite Frire.
Initially, she had intended to keep the male teachers and students from sitting in front of her, as she knew that she was not accustomed to the tight mini skirt she wore. However, much to her surprise, she realized that when she looked at her directly, she could understand her thoughts, and she couldn’t help but find her adorable.
Of course, she had already noticed whose plan this was, but she decided not to say anything for now.
“Hmm… That guy?”
Aristel and Frire almost simultaneously looked in the same direction, and their reactions were strikingly similar as well. The first to notice this was Teacher Sato. Their eyes were initially filled with delight, only for them to suddenly become troubled.
Teacher Sato was piqued with curiosity as she pondered what the two young ladies might be looking at, but then almost simultaneously, the two ladies stood up.
“I’m sorry, but I need to excuse myself,” Frire said.
“I will also have to excuse myself. Ortho, Rizet, you two stay behind and give me a detailed report later.”
That was all Frire and Aristel said before quickly excusing themselves from the lobby. They didn’t even bother to wait for a response.
The ones left behind were briefly bewildered, but since the discussions and arrangements had already been completed, there was no need to hold the two ladies back by force.
The conversation naturally transitioned to small talk and discussions about the days ahead. However, the only person who had sensed something unusual from the two of them before was Teacher Satou. She had a puzzled expression on her face and was the only one to tilt her head in contemplation.
“That’s not the face you wear when chasing after the person you hold dear.”
Though she was an amateur when it came to catfights, the eyes that followed the boy in the familiar school uniform were not the sort one would expect from someone chasing after the object of their affection.
Those were eyes full of caution.