She is wearing her summer uniform of a short-sleeved blouse and skirt. Her normally voluminous hair appeared flattened by the hot water, but it doesn't look moist, as if it had been properly dried.
Looking at Chihiro, she smiled faintly, then looked around the room and exhaled.
「It's an amazing room...」
「Yeah. I was surprised at first, too」
Aika was amazed, mostly at the huge bed.
Considering the purpose of the bed, Aika can't really admire it, but still, her interest seems to be stronger than her dislike, and she walks up to the bed and pushes it with her hand.
「Hey, is it actually hard?」
「Well, it's not so fluffy around the edges. But you see, the bed is big so it should be soft too」
With a nod, Aika gently put her knees on the bed.
The mattress sank with a slight ruffle as she crawled with her weight.
「Oh, it feels so comfortable...」
Aika muttered with narrowed eyes.
In fact, this bed is quite comfortable to sleep on. It must be a very expensive bed. The mattress catches the body gently, and if there's only a few of them, the space helps them sleep well.
Chihiro sat down on the bedside chair, smiling at Aika who was happily touching the bed.
Then, he looked back at her.
「...Well, Aika, thank you again. Thank you for choosing me」
Hearing this, Aika stopped moving and sat down in the middle of the bed.
「...Yeah. Me too, thank you. Thank you for wanting me, for fighting for me」
For agreeing to that fight.
Winning and getting the right was a big deal for Aika too.
Thinking about it makes him happy.
At the same time.
Chihiro felt guilty that he had been a bit unfair.
「...Someday, I'll have to fight Kamishiro-kun again」
If he's going to win, he's going to need it.
Aika blinked a few times.
After a few seconds, she asks Chihiro.
「Is that boy's pride?」
「Yes, I suppose it is」
――Chihiro lost to Kamishiro on the day before Kamishiro's confession answered in June. If he doesn't get revenge for that loss, this disappointment will never go away.
「I see. But you know what?」
Aika put her hands on the bed again, coming close to Chihiro.
「I don't care about that, okay? Because I am already Chihiro's girlfriend. Even if Kamishiro-kun beats Izumi-kun again, it won't change anything」
Once she's made up her mind, it's not easy to change her mind.
So, there is no way to win Aika again.
So, if you want to win for Aika, that's just self-satisfaction.
...Of course, that is not the only reason why Chihiro wants to challenge Kamishiro. But it did make him feel lighter.
「I guess I shouldn't ask you why you chose me...」
Chihiro murmured, a small smile on his face.
「You're right. But I think you should be more confident. And... I want tell you」
Aika sits down next to Chihiro.
Glancing sideways at Chihiro, she looked vaguely up at the ceiling. He thought about following her gaze, but held back and turned his face to the front.
And then, the voice comes from right next to him.
「Kamishiro-kun is great. He's strong, cool, and kind. I think anyone would like him. But, Chihiro, you can't be left alone」
（Come to think of it, I think someone said something like that to me once）
「...I started to care about you when you had a match with Kamishiro-kun」
Seeing Chihiro not give up even after being torn to pieces, Aika wondered why he was trying so hard.
It was just a personal match, and there was no clear bet. Yet, Chihiro was desperately trying to catch up with Kamishiro.
The difference in strength was obvious.
Many people in the crowd were saying that he was no match for Kamishiro, and to be honest, Aika thought so too.
However, Chihiro was able to take advantage of this.
He made Kamishiro take it seriously, but at the cost of great damage.
「I thought you were dangerous. I thought you were a quiet boy until then, but then I thought about it, and realized that I've healed you before」
Chihiro was unreliable.
That's why it bothered Aika.
Besides, when she was promoted to rank C after that healing, her feelings for him grew even stronger.
And before she knew it, she was following him with her eyes more and more, and at that time, he told her that he liked her.
「But then you're doing something like that with Riko-chan...」
Her interest turned to resentment, but still she couldn't hate him.
She also watched his performance in the sports festival.
And during the scavenger hunt, not knowing who to pick, but not wanting to leave out Chihiro, she had Chihiro and Kamishiro play rock-paper-scissors.
In the end, she was so embarrassed that she chose Maisaka to cover up her error.
After the closing ceremony, when she was invited to hang out, she saw Maria and the other three at the pool, and at lunch, someone said something I hadn't expected.
「I realized that I'm jealous of Riko-chan and the others. Because they looked so happy. I wanted to be there for you, too, Chihiro」
He's a hard worker. Trying so hard, but in a dangerous way. That's why Aika wants to be there for him.
It's like he needs her.
So, at that thought, she couldn't hold back her feelings. However, she doesn't want to be a slave, and she decided to denying Riko and the others who are slaves.
「...So, it's like that」
Aika lowered her head and looked back at Chihiro.
Following her, they looked at each other from a close distance.
Almost touching but not touching.
Maria would have been more provocative. Riko would have already touched her. Hana would never have gotten into this situation in the first place.
And now, Aika's expecting something, but doesn't say it, keeping an ambiguous distance.
「You know if I'm lying, right?」
Aika's thoughts flowed in.
Warm and sad feelings flooded her. It mingled with Chihiro's own feelings, and became an endless quantity that scorched his heart.
Thanks for reading...