Chapter 56 The Promise of the Closing Ceremony - Part 1

 The next morning, Maria and Riko looked sleepy as one would expect.
 Chihiro is recovering well thanks to his ability, but he might want to refrain from doing "that" today.
 Thinking that it depends on Maria and Riko's intentions, he went to school.
 Today is the last day of school, so it only has half a day.
 After arriving at school and attending the ceremony, the homeroom teacher gave the students a reminder in HR and that is it. Since there is no active work to be done, there is nothing particularly troublesome.
「Hey, why don't we go to karaoke now?
「Karaoke in front of the station?」
「Sure, but it's going to be really crowded there today」
 After school, the classroom is crowded with students who are enjoying their summer vacation.
 Shibahou Academy also has a summer vacation. During the summer vacation, students can go back to their parents' home, or stay in the dormitory if they live there.
 Also, the school is open to the public during the summer vacation. Even in a normal high school, there are club activities and make-up classes, but for Chihiro and the other [Lost Item], it is very important to have access to the school's training grounds.
 After all, although some of them are going to home, play and do homework, but some of them are going to make plans for training.
「I'm going to to use this opportunity to focus on my training」
「Haha. As expected of Kamishiro」
 Perhaps because the number of people in the classroom had not decreased, Chihiro is not able to go home immediately today.
 And as he got up from his seat with his luggage, Maisaka caught him and forced him to join the conversation.
「Izumi-kun? Are you going back to your parents' house?」
「Well, I'm going back in a couple of days, but mostly I'll be training」
 Originally, Chihiro's parents' house is not that far away. But it's not convenient for commuting to school, after all, it's enough for a day trip.
 In this day and age, he can contact each other by cell phone, and his mother is the only one living at home. Her sister, who is working, is probably too busy to come home, so when he returns, it will be just him and his mother. If he stays too long, he might end up making her feel uncomfortable.
 ...Well, he didn't say that much about the situation.
 Kamishiro nodded deeply and gave Chihiro a refreshing smile.
「I see. Then, let's see the results after the vacation」
 Chihiro replied to him, staring at his toned body.
 Kamishiro Yuuki is Chihiro's goal. Part of the reason why he wanted to spend his summer vacation training is to catch up with him.
 Rather, if he just spends this summer aimlessly, Kamishiro will surely go much farther.
 As they stared at each other, Maisaka's light voice interrupted them.
「Ohhh, it's hot. I mean, Kamishiro, I'm inviting you to hang out at least once. Let's go to the beach」
 The slightly tall and slightly handsome class member is apparently more interested in enjoying his youth than working out. Well, in his case, brain work is more important than physical training, so it is not impossible that what seems to be just a fun activity is actually useful for gathering information.
 When Maisaka tapped his shoulder, Kamishiro narrowed his eyes.
「Sea, huh? Certainly swimming isn't bad... but why me?」
「Izumi isn't as dumb as you, and he should have something to play with. Or do you want to come with us, Izumi?」
「Haha. No, you two have fun」
 Chihiro and Kamishiro don't hate each other, but they're not exactly friends. If they spend too much time together, they might become choked up.
「Well, I wouldn't go out with just the two of us. Come on, Kamishiro, who do you want me to invite? ...Wait, don't tell everyone. I know who you want me to ask out!」
「No, I haven't said anything yet, have I?」
 Chihiro faded away from the scene, leaving the two of them to continue their rambling. When he went back to his seat to lift his luggage.
「Aren't Izumi-kun and the others going out somewhere?」
 A voice came from beside him, urging Chihiro to stay.
 The voice was gentle and reassuring, but with a faint tinge of bitterness.
 The seat right next to him. Maria with a clear face, Riko with a "caught" look, and Aika with a smile are sitting around the desk.
 Aika's eyes seemed to be telling him to sit down, so Chihiro sat down in his seat.
 Though he didn't have the guts to look her in the eye, so he was just guessing.
「I haven't decided yet, probably」
 What had she meant by "Chihiro and the others" earlier?
 Unable to make a decision, Chihiro gave a safe answer. In fact, it's not a lie that he hasn't decided yet.
『What are Izumi-kun and the others going to do during the summer vacation?』
『...Come to think of it, haven't we talked about anything?』
 When Maria told Chihiro about it, it was really just because she remembered, and didn't contain any special heat. Heard that Maria herself is not going back to Hokkaido, but is planning to stay at her apartment.
『It's too much trouble to go back to Hokkaido. I'm not too old to miss my parents』
 So, she said, Chihiro and the others can stay here as long as they want.
『I see. Well, maybe that sounds like you』
 Riko said she'd be back home for a few days. She's going to talk to her parents about moving out of the dorm.
『Then, Chihiro? When will you come back?』
 Perhaps because Riko doesn't want to leave Chihiro and Maria alone in the apartment, she said that they should make plans together to go together. Therefore, the return trip itself is scheduled for the Obon season, but there is nothing to be said about fun.
「Hmm. So, are you going to relax at home?」
 Just the three of them.
 It sounded like a small word added to the question, or was it his imagination?
 Chihiro couldn't control the urge and made eye contact with Aika.
 Aika reacted with a twitch.
 But she wouldn't look away, and Chihiro could feel her annoyance. With her fluffy hair and clear eyes, he was momentarily bewildered by her emotions, which did not suit her kind heart.
 Surely, the cause is Chihiro.
 As if drawn by this thought and Aika's annoyance, a sudden feeling popped into his head.
「Would you like to go somewhere together during the summer vacation?」
 Aika blinked.
 Riko mutters a small, “Heh~” and Maria's jet-black eyes turn to Chihiro. Meanwhile, Aika blinks repeatedly, chewing on what she's been told.
 At the end, the words that escaped from her pretty lips were.
 She said.
 With a straight face and a flat voice. As if it were a simple question.
Honestly, it nearly broke Chihiro's heart.
「Why do I have to go out with Izumi-kun? Why would Izumi-kun ask me out? 「
 There's a slight difference in meaning, but it's not likely to be interpreted favorably.
 Maybe Aika doesn't like him after all. Even though he thought so, Chihiro answered with all the energy he could muster.
「It's because I want to go with Takatsuki-san... Is that not good enough?」
 Aika again paused in her answer.
 After a few seconds, she smiled and said.
「umm, no」
 Maria exhaled and averted her gaze. As if she had lost interest in the whole exchange, she narrowed her eyes at an unidentifiable location.
 Riko, on the other hand, remained silent and looked at Aika's face.
(...What's the difference in their reactions?)
 But Chihiro look into Aika's eyes.
 Aika was still smiling at him, but in fact she was angry inside. Not with a boiling heat, but with a prickling anger.
 However, being stabbed repeatedly with prickly thorns is more painful in a way than being burned in an instant.
「So, Izumi-kun, where are you going? The beach, the mountains? Or the pool? A fireworks festival? What do you want me to do if you take me to those places?」
 The thorn pierced him.
「...Are you going to do the same thing to me that you did to Riko-chan?」
 Those are the decisive words.
 Fortunately, so far, the noise in the classroom has not changed. No one seems to have enough time on their hands to pay attention to Chihiro and the others.
 It's only a matter of time, though.
「Takatsuki-san, if people hear that...」
 Chihiro is going to say, "They'll get the wrong idea".
「Shut up!」
 She let out a sigh, not even trying to hide her annoyance.
「I can't be bothered by that right now」
「Takatsuki-san, what's the matter with you?」
 Riko says, rather happily, and Aika glares at her.
「You don't understand, Riko-chan」
 The blonde girl cowered lightly, and Aika turned her gaze to Chihiro again.
「What do you say, Izumi-kun?」
 This is what Takatsuki Aika is like.
 This is what she looks like when she's truly lost her composure, when she's dominated by frustration and anger. She doesn't care about her surroundings, she only wants to achieve her own goals.
 ...Well, there's nothing wrong with that.
 She can be kind to others because she can afford to be. Aika is a human being, and she cannot be so pure as to think only of others when she is in pain.
 Chihiro, who pushed her into a corner, has nothing to say about it.
 He just felt a little happy that Aika had shown him the ground.
 But then, he takes a light breath.
 And after making sure that no one around him is paying attention, he says to Aika in a voice just loud enough to reach her.
「Yes. I want to hold Takatsuki-san」
 Aika took a small gulp.
 She turns over and squeezes her fist against her chest.
 Then she looked up and said something even more outrageous.
「Okay. Then... I'll go with all the girls around Izumi-kun. Whenever at the beach, in the mountains, at the pool」
 Chihiro felt that he is losing track of the girl named Takatsuki Aika.
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