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Chapter 60 A Game of Love - Part 1


「What do you mean?」
 
 Aika blinked her eyes in confusion. Looking at her, Chihiro slowly explained.
 
「...I don't think Takatsuki-san should have said it like that. That's why I can't forgive Takatsuki-san for making such a suggestion. And I don't want something like that to happen in the future」
 
 The Aika that Chihiro knew was more gentle, calm and natural.
 Therefore, he feels that it's not like her to ignore the other person's feelings and the impact on the people around her and just insist on what she wants.
 
「That's a selfish judgment on your part, Izumi-kun」
「I know. That's why this is my own decision」
 
 There's no need to obey her.
 At the same time, it's a way to appeals to Aika's conscience.
 If this makes Aika's bothered, then Aika is not suitable for such a method.
 The girl bit down on the words she was told. 
 
**a
 
「You want me to give you another condition?」
「If possible. ...Or, Takatsuki-san can decide for herself what she wants to do」
 
 A deep sigh escaped from her lips.
 
「That's too selfish for a boy. You've dated a lot of girls and you want to date me too」
 
 Lovers are supposed to be equals.
 Then why is it bad to want someone to look only at her?
 A few seconds after Aika said that and thought so.
 Then.
 A glass of iced tea is placed on the table, and Hana quietly says.
 
「Izumi-kun doesn't have any girlfriends. He only has slaves」
「...aren't they all the same?」
 
 Aika glares at Hana sideways, but Hana replies matter-of-factly.
 
「No. Master and slave are not equals. Takatsuki-san, would you be jealous if your lover had a female pet?」
「Don't put people and animals together」
「They are the same. In the sense of being owned and being owned by others」
 
 It's a rant, but in a way it's a valid point.
 In fact, the relationship between Chihiro and Maria, Riko and Hana may be difficult to understand without such an extreme expression.
 
 *sniff*
 
 Hana sniffs and continues.
 
「Takatsuki-san, aren't you selfish, too? You're threatening one of the boys while weighing the two boys against each other」
「...」
 
 Aika shuddered and glared at Hana.
 Hana met her gaze without hesitation for five seconds.
 
「Eh?」
 
 Aika's mouth dropped open.
 
「Where's my...」
「Well, I've taken away your healing ability」
 
 Hana took advantage of the moment when Aika was distracted by the conversation.
 Thinking about it, it's unlikely that Aika is aware of Hana's abilities. Although Hana's ability is widely known at the school festival, only a few people knew the detailed conditions.
 She was careless.
 But why now?
 *exhale*
 
「Have you cooled down a bit?」
「...Yeah」
 
 Hana smiles, and Aika puts her hand on her chest.
 Perhaps the ability to heal has been returned.
 
「I guess I was too impatient」
「Yes. You made your bad character very visible」
 
 Looking at Hana's smug face, Riko muttered, "I wonder if I can speak like that to others, ", but fortunately, Hana didn't hear it.
 
 *knock* *knock*
 
 There is a knock at the door of the private room, and salads and other dishes are brought in. The conversation came to a halt at this point, and the group decided to start eating.
 
 Caesar salad and seafood salad. French fries and fried onions. Tomato and cheese caprese, fried chicken wings, chili shrimp.
 Then came the main course which consisted of beef fillet steak, bolognese, beef stew, salmon meuniere and shrimp gratin.
 The table quickly filled up with soup, rice, and bread.
 
「I don't know if I can eat this much」
「It'll be fine. If we're in a private room, it won't be a problem if we stay a little longer」
 
 Riko's voice is casual, while Maria's is anxious.
 In the end, Riko is right. Chihiro and the other four students at Shibahou, though not athletes, are physically strong and eat better than most high school students. Or rather, they need to eat in order to keep their bodies healthy.
 Another reason may be that this restaurant is basically a bar, and the quantity of each dish is rather small.
 In the end, some of them said, "We should order more".
 
「 Well, that's enough. Would you like to order dessert?」
「Sure. Let's do that」
 
 They called the waiter and ordered dessert. Chihiro joined the girls and ordered a cheesecake. He also likes sweets.
 
「Um, Izumi-kun」
 
 Then Aika opened her mouth again.
 He knew that she had been thinking a lot while eating. Because she hadn't said much while Riko and Hana were talking freely to each other.
 So Chihiro nodded quietly.
 
「...Yes?」
「I thought about it again. It's true that I was also a bit impatient, but I still can't agree that Izumi-kun is enslaving Riko-chan and the others」
 
 It is natural for a person with normal sensibilities.
 However, what she said next is quite uncommon.
 
「So, let's compete with me. If I win, Izumi will give priority to me. If Izumi win, I will give priority to you. How about it?」
 
 As expected, Chihiro had no choice but to accept this proposal.
 And thanks to the suddenness of the conversation and the resulting pressure, he couldn't quite taste the cheesecake that had been brought to him.
 
**b
 
 ☆   ☆   ☆
 
 
 The game took place the next day in the private training room of Shibahou Academy.
 It's past ten in the morning. Maria, Riko, and Hana gathered in the private room, which is a little larger than the area of a kendo match. The audience are completely the same as yesterday, because it's not something to be publicized.
 
 Chihiro and Aika now are both dressed in training clothes and gym clothes. They had both changed their clothes in the changing room.
 
 As soon as they are facing each other at a sufficient distance, Chihiro asked Aika.
 
「No time limit, no vital points. Bare hands only. If you or I give up or are unable to get up after 10 seconds, it loses. How?」
「Yeah, sure」
 
 The rules are pretty standard.
 However, it is much lighter than the "completely serious competition" that Chihiro had with Kamishiro.
 In addition, the setting is more favorable to Aika than to Chihiro. After all, Aika has some experience in martial arts, so she should be able to fight with empty hands.
 However, it is not fair for Chihiro to use a weapon against a girl.
 Anyway, this isn't a private fight with someone he hates.
 
「Chihiro」
 
 One of the girls standing by the wall, a blonde girl, shouted quietly.
 Chihiro smiled softly back at her anxious expression.
 
「I'm fine」
 
 ...Maria and Riko are against this fight...
 
『This looks like you're willing to give in』
『Yeah. I don't think it's fair』
 
 In one-on-one combat, Chihiro's abilities are almost useless.
 The most useful is mind-reading, and sleep promotion is only indirectly useful. His domination is meaningless too.
 Aika, on the other hand, can heal herself in combat. Although it is not as efficient as Maria's, it has the potential to overturn the difference in strength between men and women if used well.
 Chihiro has been told that he should propose a team game for a serious competition, but Chihiro has rejected the idea.
 
『I mean, this is my selfishness』
 
 Since he started it out of selfishness, he should take care of it himself.
 And asking for a girl's help at this point is indeed too uncool.
 Well, it was Hana who encouraged Chihiro's refusal by saying…
 
『It's okay, isn't it? Even if Izumi-kun loses, I don't have any problem with it』
 
 If Chihiro loses, there is a good chance that his slave contract with the three of them will be terminated.
 So Hana seemed to be saying that she would prefer Chihiro to lose.
 
 ...But Chihiro has no intention of losing.
 
 And so, Chihiro looked at Aika and said.
 
「Takatsuki-san, I'm sorry, but I'm going to be reckless」
「...I want to say don't do that, but I know I can't」
 
 Tension builds between the two.
 And then Hana gave the signal to start.
 
「Let's begin!」
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