PHASE 1
Ichika


The Silver Gospel incident.

An hour had passed since the lights out throughout the seaside resort, but Ichika Orimura just could not sleep. He tossed and turned on his futon as he pondered about that incident: he was certain that he was almost overpowered by the rouge IS, but it suddenly loosened its grip, giving him an opening, and he managed to drive Yukihira Type-2 through it to shut it down permanently.

Then, another memory back from the night before came to haunt his mind once more. The shy but serious face of his childhood friend, Houki Shinonono, asked him if he saw her as a girl, whilst placing his hand onto her…breasts.

Heat crept across his cheeks at that thought and his sat up abruptly. His shook his head wildly to disperse the recollection. There was something that Houki wanted to say, he knew; he could tell from her expression…

"Urgh! What the heck am I thinking about?" he ruffled his hair in irritation as said his thoughts out loud. Almost immediately after he had spoken, an alarm clock whizzed past him, inches from his face, and crashed onto the wall, where it broke apart. "Shut up, you idiot—I'm trying to sleep here!" His sister, Chifuyu Orimura barked in annoyance before turning her back at him to sleep.

Ichika shivered and smiled weakly. He had forgotten that he was sharing room with his fearsome sister today. He sighed quietly, got up and tiptoed to the door. He needed to get out and breathe some fresh air, to clear his clouded mind. Before his finger touched the door frame, it was suddenly pulled open, and the person he had least expected stood in front of him, a wooden katana resting on her shoulder.

"H-Houki?"

"I…Ichika."

They stared at each other for a moment. Finally he began first, "Ah, Houki…There's something I want to ask—"

"T-This isn't a good place to talk. Come with me!" She dragged him roughly into an empty room that was conveniently next to his.

Once the door was shut, he looked at Houki with a confused expression and opened his mouth to speak, but the awkwardness that was emitting from Houki made him snapped it shut again. Houki took in a deep breath and the words came out in a rush, her face scarlet, "Um, Ichika…y-you know, about last night… What do you think of me?"

"Huh? What do I think of you? Uh…you're my childhood friend, right?"

Houki's lips twitched. Her body shook and he could feel a dark aura emerging from her back. She gripped the katana even tighter.

"I-Ichika… You idiot!"

The katana narrowly missed his head as she brought it down on him. "That's not what I meant at all!"

"Then I…I don't get what you mean!"

"Am I just a childhood friend to you? Nothing more?"

"Huh? More what?" He had to jump backwards to dodge another ferocious attack from the furious girl. "You mean…you don't want to be my childhood friend anymore?"

"…You!"

Suddenly, Houki swayed and went down on her knees, throwing her katana aside and clutched her head.

"Houki!" When he rushed forward to his stricken friend he paused, sniffed her with a dead serious face. "Hey, Houki. Have you been drinking?"

"W-What? Don't…don't get too close to me!" She looked alarmed at how near Ichika's face was to hers, tried to push him away, but her arms faltered on his shoulders. A tear fell down her crimson cheek. "Tell me, please tell me that we're more than just friends… My heart ached when I had to leave the dojo… I thought I'd never, ever get to see you again…"

"Houki…"

"I…" Her fingers dug into his yukata. "I can never forget the memories we shared when we practiced kendo together back then…"

"…"

"I-I…I liked you, always liked you—since that day!" she shouted at his face, tears flowing endlessly down her red face. She pulled him closer and hiccoughed. "Ichika…"

"Uh…huh? H-H-H-Houki? W-Wait—" He remained frozen on his spot, utterly bewildered at her sudden confession. She is definitely drunk.

"Eh…Houki, you shouldn't have drunk alcohol. Look at you." He pried her fists off his shoulders. "Let's go back, okay?"

"No…don't leave me…again…"

He sighed, stood up and pulled Houki to her feet. "Let's go, alright?" But she wobbled and fainted right into his arms.

"Houki…? Hey, Houki!"

"So."

He looked up at the voice of his sister, who stood cross-armed at the door. "I guess that kind of stuff is still too strong for her."

"Chi…Chifuyu-nee? What do you mean by that?" He carried the unconscious Houki in his arms and stood up. "Don't tell me…you are the one who gave her—?"

"She came into my room and asked for some. So I let her try the red wine that Tabane dumped in my luggage." She sighed. "Just get her to the sick bay."

"But why would you let her…?"

"I pitied her for caring too much about my dumb little brother." With that, she returned back to her room.

Then, Houki grabbed on to his yukata and murmured, "Ichika…don't leave me again…please…"

He smiled gently and breathed into her ear. "I won't leave you again, Houki. I promise. We'll be friends forever, right?"

"B-Baka…Ichika…"