Chapter 59 Is it Love or Bond - Part 1

 After that, Aika continued to said,
「Please answer it later」
 And she walked away.
 When Chihiro hurriedly got out of the pool, the distance between them was already so great that he gave up chasing after her.
 Instead, he went to find Riko and Maria and explained the situation to them.
 Hana, by the way, went separately.
「I also have some business with Takatsuki-san」
 She said that and wandered off.
 Chihiro, who hears that, wonders what Hana is going to do to Aika, but he needs to share the information with Maria and Riko first. So, he came to this place where he felt comfortable.
 ...And when he told them the whole story, the first thing they said was.
 *snip snip*
 The tip of the straw shaped like a spoon shatters a pile of shaved ice.
 And then, Riko slurps it up. 
「Okay. Then let’s assault her」
 Riko said simply, as if she was deciding what to have for dinner.
 Maria, who also had a straw in her hand, nodded,
「That’s right. ...Then we should move as soon as possible」
 In the rest area of the pool.
 The three of them, Chihiro, Riko, and Maria are here. They bought one shaved ice and put it on the table, poking at it as they gathered around each other.
「She’s going to be taken to Maria’s room, right? Today?」
「Yes yes. We don’t have much time, and I think it’s more natural than calling her again. The problem is the alibi. But it’s summer vacation, so it’s much easier」
「Yeah. Still, it’s not easy when she’s going home or has other plans」
「That’s why we need to check first. I will also help you, so can I ask Riko to find out? You’re good at that, aren’t you?」
「Okay. As soon as you decide」
 ...No, I don’t want you to decide.
「Wait, wait a minute. I haven’t said anything yet」
 Chihiro hurriedly stopped them.
「...Well. But...」
「Izumi-kun, what else are you going to do?」
 The two slaves kept their mouths shut, but their expressions turned grim as they looked at Chihiro.
 Apparently, their accusatory glances pierced his heart.
「Are you going to take Takatsuki-san’s offer?」
 Maria’s voice echoed quietly, as if she was warning him.
「Let me tell you, this is not a joke. We’re seriously considering it. If you thought it was a joke, please reconsider」
 Did he even mean it as a joke?
 For a moment, an out-of-place thought came to mind, but now was not the time.
 Chihiro shook his head and tried to answer.
「...No. I didn’t mean to make light of it」
 But his words are interrupted by Riko.
「Hey, Chihiro」
 Her voice is low enough not to draw attention.
 Yet, it reached Chihiro’s ears with a strong impact.
「I told you before, didn’t I? I don’t know what I’ll do if Chihiro abandons me」
「Well, let me correct that a bit. I still feel the same way, but I think I know what I would do if Chihiro abandoned me like this」
 Quickly, she thrust the straw into the shaved ice again.
「I’d probably kill Chihiro and kill myself. If I don’t, I won’t be able to stand it and I won’t be able to forgive Chihiro for abandoning me」
 She means he’ll die if he abandons her to get Aika.
 ...Really, the girl who had believed in Chihiro and followed him even when he had been at odds with Maria, said it clearly.
 And it sent a shiver down his spine.
 It seemed that the girl’s mind was unstable and dangerous. Now, Chihiro understands what he himself has created.
 But that is surely what Aika is looking for in Chihiro.
 If he wants to get her, he has to give up everything else. Aika wants him to show her that kind of determination.
 Perhaps it’s a punishment for Chihiro, who has repeatedly behaved in a seductive manner towards Aika.
 Two choices are too cruel.
 She didn’t want Chihiro to give up, she wanted him to choose.
 And she didn’t say a word that if Chihiro left Maria and the others, she would be his. 
 ――But still, Chihiro can’t give up on Aika.
 Maybe Aika knows this too.
「I’m sorry, Riko」
 The blonde girl’s hand stopped abruptly.
「I’m sorry about the way I said that. I’m not going to do what Takatsuki-san says」
 Riko’s mouth dropped open, and her whole body relaxed.
 Perhaps relieved, she glared lightly at Chihiro with tears in her eyes.
「I mean, you stopped our strategy meeting that it made me thought so」
「Well, I’ll stop that. Because that’s too extreme」
 Maria laughed at Chihiro’s comment.
「Too bad. It’s not often that I get to see a girl who’s been trained to become a degenerate, so I had high hopes for this」
「...Did you really say you were serious just now?」
「Yes. I was really looking forward to it」
「...uh, yeah. Okay」
 Chihiro gave up trying to get into Maria’s head for now.
 He then let out a sigh and changed his mind.
「Anyway, can you two stop your crazy plans for now? I’m not going to give up on you two, and I’m not just going to turn down Takatsuki-san’s offer」
「What do you mean?」
 Chihiro smiled at Maria who tilted her head and replied.
「I don’t think it’s going to work out, but I’m going to try and talk to "him". With Takatsuki-san」
 ☆   ☆   ☆
 After that, Maria and the others listened to Chihiro’s words, but did not stop the discussion.
『I’ll talk to you in case it becomes necessary』
 He said that, and remained at the table near the stall.
 Chihiro gave them soft ice cream as a gift after they had finished their shaved ice, and then wandered around the pool by himself.
 He wanted to collect his thoughts for now.
 While thinking, he used the water slide, slid down and up again. After about three times, he was pulled by someone on the side of the pool.
 And it’s Hana, staring at him with their faces almost touching.
「You looked so stupid, Izumi-kun」
 She pulled Chihiro towards a corner. Then, to a certain extent, she sighed deeply as the noise faded away.
「...Well, I’m just a little surprised. She’s pretty outrageous, isn’t she?」
「You mean Takatsuki-san?」
「Yes, that’s right」
 She nodded and told Chihiro what she had been aiming for.
 Apparently, Aika was interested in Chihiro, so in exchange for supporting their relationship, Hana wanted her to make sure that Maria and Chihiro were kept apart.
 Hana seems to have offered such a deal to Aika. 
「But it didn’t work. She insisted that she wouldn’t do anything underhanded and that she would talk to Izumi-kun fairly」
「...I think that’s good」
「That’s why Izumi-kun is no good」
 Hana snickered at him after said so.
 Really, this girl, despite her gentle face, has a poisonous tongue. But then she stared off into the distance.
「It’s more important to be pure and sincere than to win or lose... if you think about it that way, it certainly sounds like a good thing. But what she’s thinking about isn’t something cool like that」
「If she fights fair and doesn’t get chosen, then there’s no point. If she can’t monopolize Izumi-kun’s heart with her charm alone, then that’s not victory. Takatsuki-san is that kind of unruly girl」
 She needs to be loved to feel good about herself.
 That’s why she is kind to others and treats everyone equally. By making fewer enemies and more allies, she can increase the number of people who love her.
 To satisfy and heal others will lead to her own joy.
 This is the kind of girl who lives her life by balancing selfishness and altruism.
 Right now, her interests are focused on Chihiro alone, and her behavioral direction has changed somewhat.
 A similar feeling to Hana’s.
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