Chihiro, who managed to escape the suspicion of the girls in the locker room, entered the maid cafe in 1-C as a customer, and was served by Riko. He then wandered around the school building.
While wandering, he saw a class that held a [Quiz Corner], and he tried a number of questions, recording about 50% of the answers correct.
After that, he dropped in at the booth of the Miss Contest, which was set up in an empty classroom on the first floor, and felt a bit uncomfortable with the photo of himself dressed as a woman, still, he joined in the voting because he had to.
And after taking some detours, he went to the infirmary.
――As the vote, he was allowed to vote for up to two girls and two boys, so he voted for Aika and Maria after much deliberation. As for the boys, he voted for Kamishiro without any complaints and for Maisaka as a form of harassment.
Perhaps the crowd had begun to slow down after a while in the afternoon, but the atmosphere in the infirmary was rather quiet. Noriko, the school nurse, was treating one visitor, and Aika, a helper, was standing in a corner of the room, seemingly unoccupied.
She had changed into another outfit, not the jersey she was wearing when they parted.
But a white one-piece coat in contrast to the jet-black maid's uniform. Overall, the coat is loose, with the front part of the coat combined with an apron of the same color.
「Aika, that outfit」
「Yeah. I thought I looked like a nurse. What do you think?」
Chihiro asks, and Aika smiles and spins around.
「I think it's cute, very cute」
「I'm glad. You know, this is pretty popular among the guests」
「Guests... is it a man?」
「Some were young, but most were little kids and old people」
He was relieved to find that he did not have to worry too much.
But then he heard a voice from Noriko-sensei, who had finished her treatment.
「Takatsuki, you can leave the room for a while. I would appreciate it if you could get me something to eat while you're gone」
「Oh, I understand. ...Thank you, sensei」
Maybe she was just trying to be considerate, but it helped them.
So, Aika bowed her head, to which Noriko responded with a light wave of her hand. Noriko then pulls a cigarette from the pocket of her lab coat, puts it in her mouth, and walks over to the window.
Chihiro and Aika bowed once more at her back, and then left the infirmary.
「There are a lot of people here at lunch time, so it's pretty crowded. And sensei seems unable to eat a proper meal」
「I see. The school nurse can't be away from their desk too much」
「Yes, unlike usual, we never know when a visitor will arrive」
That makes the infirmary's job a lot of work.
Although there were some snacks in their stomachs, and they said it was "...rather easy since the injuries were only minor".
But Chihiro and the others went to the stalls outside to buy takoyaki (octopus dumplings) and hot dogs, which were easy for the school nurse to eat while they were working. While it was still warm, they headed straight back to the school without stopping.
On the way, in the middle of the crowd, Aika says something to him.
「By the way, you were with the student council president, weren't you?」
Aika didn't need to ask why, and she just answered with a light tilt of her head.
「Suzu-san told me through e-mail」
「So, you two were exchanging addresses」
「Yes, we've known each other for days. So, at least we can exchange contact information」
The last few days have been rather hectic, but how long have they been communicating?
Well, it is one of Aika's strengths to be able to be friends with so many people in such a casual manner. Chihiro, who still doesn't even know Suzu's phone number, might want to learn from her.
「You talked to Riko-chan too, didn't you?」
「...you really texted Nishizaki-san」
It doesn't matter to him if Aika doesn't mind.
But Chihiro doesn't know what to say to Aika, who expresses her dissatisfaction with her gaze, "You're busy, aren't you?".
Still, it's better to be honest and tell her what's on his mind.
「Aika...after you give the food to Sensei can we go somewhere quiet for a while?」
When he implicitly invited her to the action, Aika looked happy for a moment.
But she shook her head.
「...It's embarrassing in school」
He feels a little disappointed, but it can't be helped.
It's not something that should be forced on lovers.
「I was in that kind of mood when I saw Aika's outfit...」
「Are you still not satisfied?」
「Time with Aika is something else entirely」
「...geez. It's not fair that you say it so easily」
Aika's cheeks puffed out in a pouty, adorable way.
As they talk, they go out the front door into the corridor. And after a while, the street gradually becomes less and less crowded.
But then Aika's eyes glance at Chihiro.
When he stopped as he was told....
Aika's lips touched his, half-way unexpectedly.
It was only for a moment, but it left a vivid impression on his heart.
「For me, this is the limit」
He reached out his hand to a bashful Aika and tried to embrace her, but he was managed to suppress the urge to do so.
Still, when they walk away, they exchange glances with each other and blush.
Luckily, no one witnessed the kiss. Well, some people seemed to look at them uncertainly, but they tried their best to make a face as if nothing had happened.
「Oh, you're early. Why don't you go a little slower?」
「I'm hungry too. Besides, this kind of food doesn't taste good when it's cold」
The foods are placed on Noriko-sensei's desk.
「Well, I'll take this」
「Yeah. See you later, Chihiro-kun」
They waved goodbye to each other and left the infirmary.
Behind him, Chihiro could hear Noriko-sensei teasing Aika, but he tried not to listen to it.
And before he knew it, it was already around three o'clock in the afternoon.
The festival ends at 4:00 p.m., so there is less than an hour left until the first day ends. Tomorrow, he has two shifts, so he'd like to finish his errands today as much as possible.
But, he thought, is there anything I can do to earn some points even now?
――While he thinking this, he hears the ringtone of his smart phone.
Not a text message, but a phone call.
Who could it be? If it was a member of the student council, Marika would have contacted him, or maybe there was a problem in the class or in the executive committee.
But the name on the display is completely unexpected.
A chill ran through his body as if he had been doused with cold water.
Still, he pressed the call button with trembling fingers, feeling the urge to ignore it.
『Hello, Chihiro, how are you?』
A somewhat theatrical female voice came through the speaker.
Chihiro sighs inwardly at the voice, which has both a masculine calmness and a feminine softness, and overall, it has the air of an adult.
...Nothing has changed at all.
It's not so surprising.
With a heavy sense of resignation, he opens his mouth and responds to her.
「Yeah. It's been a long time, sister (Nee-san)」
And with this, the first conversation with his sister after a blank of more than half a year started.
* * *