All around him were strangers. Adults, high school's brother or sister, and families were all walking around with smiles on their faces.
Chihiro is the only one who is alone.
The amusement park is supposed to be fun, but it's not fun at all.
He called loudly but he can't find them. Still――
――Chihiro's a boy. He needs to be strong.
That's what he was told all the time. So, he tried his best. But eventually he became inconsolable and started to cry.
He couldn't stop crying and kept calling his mother and sister, wailing and crying.
Some people came to him, but he couldn't stop crying.
He doesn't know how long it was.
Finally, someone called his name.
He quickly ran to his sister, who was a middle school student at that time, and hugged her tenderly. This time, he started to cry out of relief, but his mother and sister gently calmed him down and he finally calmed down.
When he looked up, Chihiro saw her.
He saw his sister hugging Chihiro, with his mother at his back, her eyes not looking at Chihiro.
She was staring blankly somewhere far away.
The memory of those eyes of his sister remains in is mind much more than the loneliness of being alone now――.
* * *
「Chihiro, wake up」
In his sleep, he heard his sister's voice in his ear.
「Wake up, breakfast is ready」
Is it morning already?
Shrugging off the morning fatigue, Chihiro opened his eyes and woke himself up. Within a minute or two, the drowsiness clears and he wakes up refreshed.
His physical condition had almost completely recovered.
He sat up in bed and looked down at himself.
There were traces of liquid here and there on his skin, and his clothes were scattered on the floor.
（...I wonder how many times my sister made me come last night...）
His thoughts catch up with him.
And last night's lewd acts come back to his mind, causing a deep sigh to escape from his mouth.
As expected, it was too much of a mess.
Fortunately, thanks to the [Sleep Enhancement], he is completely free from fatigue and the aftermath of the pleasure, but on the other hand, he is not feeling any anger. It may be because he has a habit of giving up on everything concerning his sister.
Thinking back, from the beginning to the end, he could not suppress his voice, let alone ejaculate, as Kaede made him do. Hopefully the surrounding rooms did not hear it.
Anyway, he puts it behind for now and looks back at Kaede.
She looked neat and tidy.
She is still wearing only a blouse and underwear, but her hair and skin are clean as if she had taken a shower.
「Breakfast? Are there any ingredients?」
There must have been only seasonings in the refrigerator.
Then his sister, who is eight years older than him, answered nonchalantly.
「No. I mean, take a shower and get me some breakfast」
「...Oh, I see」
Chihiro gave up his protest, since anything he said would be useless and time would be wasted. After a quick shower and change of clothes, he went to a nearby hamburger store to get the morning menu.
Without Maria and the others around, eating out is the only option for them.
Perhaps his cooking skills are getting rusty.
Although he was not a good cook in the first place, he can still cook for himself, but since he has not cooked at all for the past few months, he must be even worse at it.
Not only cooking, but also cleaning and washing are hardly done these days.
Thus, the girls hold the lifeline of his real life. Maybe the "Master's behavior" that Maria advises him to behave like, is becoming a part of him before he knows it.
「Here you go」
Kaede pays for this meal.
They each proceeded to eat their hamburgers in their own way. During this time, there is hardly any conversation. If there is no one to talk to, Izumi Kaede is a human being who talks very little.
「Sister, what are you doing today?」
「I'm going to look around the festival a bit, take care of a few things and then I'm going back. I don't think we have time to say hello again」
「I see. ...Well, take care of yourself」
「Hmm. I'll take that as a courtesy」
And then the conversation is cut short. Well, actually, it's almost a courtesy call. In fact, part of him is relieved that she has left.
Some time later, when they were about to finish their meals, Kaede said something to him.
「Chihiro, are you familiar with the name [Absolute]?」
Chihiro frowned and tilted his head at the unfamiliar word.
As he recalled, the word must mean "absolute" or something like that, but since it is a name, it must be the name of something.
It could be a common name or title given to a person, a thing, or a group.
Since Kaede dares to mention it, it must not be a manga story or something like that. Just to be sure, he tries to search his memory seriously.
「...No, I don't know it」
He had never heard the name before.
「Is something wrong?」
「No, nothing. It's just a side thing」
He did not know how much he could trust her words.
When he stares at her, unable to make up his mind about her attitude, she speaks plainly.
「...[Mind reading], huh...」
When Kaede talks to him like that, he can't help feeling that she is making fun of him. But Chihiro kept silent and sharpened his gaze.
And Kaede just let out a breath.
「Let me tell you an analogy」
Did she just distract him?
For a moment, Chihiro thought so, but then he was puzzled by the next words.
「Would you use your power of [Mind Reading] even if you faced a criminal-murderer, a madman, or an evil spirit of the mountains and rivers （魑魅魍魎）?」
「...What's so sudden?」
「It's just a side thing. It's the same thing as before」
Thinking back what she said.
Compared to the previous question, this one was easy to answer.
「I will use it. Even if the other person is not a normal human being. No, I think I will use the power of [Mind Reading] precisely because he/she is not a normal human being」
Kaede nodded and said nothing more.
She changed into a suit and left the room without further mentioning the name [Absolute] or explaining the meaning of the two questions.
「Then, see you later」
She left only short words and the key to the dormitory.
What in the world was that all about?
Sighing, Chihiro packed himself up and left the room after checking the main gas valve and other things to make sure the room was safe for a long absence.
Fortunately, there was still some time before the morning HR.
First of all, Chihiro picked up his smartphone to fulfill the promise he made yesterday.
* * *
「...Isn't this position a bit uncomfortable?」
「Yes, it's very forced. But there's no choice. There's no other way」
Suzu replies to Riko's blabbering.
The two of them - or rather, all of Chihiro's associates, except for new member Yotsuba - were in the 1-C changing room, the last room in the corridor lined with first-year students' classrooms, where the school festival is held.
First of all, Suzu was lying down on the floor of the room. Her arms and legs are spread lightly on the floor, and her hands are touching Chihiro and Aika, and her legs are touching Maria and Riko.
Hana, the lightest of the members, is sitting on Suzu's stomach.
This is because they cannot talk slowly unless they do so.