It Started with a Kiss Chapter 3

Ichika sighed in relief as he rounded the last turn to Izumo Inn, his final destination. He hadn't been there before, but he was already looking forward to getting there. The walk to it with the girls had been…interesting.

"Is something wrong Ichika-sama?" asked Yume from where she was seated, which happened to be on his shoulders. She brought her head down as she asked this to better look at his face.

"No, nothing's wrong Yume," said Ichika with a small grin, "It's just been a busy day."

Yume looked in Ichika's eyes, searching for something. Whatever it was she found it and made a small affirmative noise, "Ok Ichika-sama," she said, moving back up to her fully upright position. Ichika shook his head internally, glancing left and right where Akitsu and Musubi were glued onto his respective arms, as they had been since leaving the store.

That had been the first twist on the journey to the Inn. After he had kissed all three of them the tears had stopped, which was what he had intended. What he hadn't realized was that none of them would want to let go. Indeed, it seemed that all three of them felt the need to be touching him at all times, and though Yume and Akitsu seemed to be slightly clingier than Musubi, it was only measurable by fractions.

But they had needed to get moving and Ichika couldn't walk very well with Yume clinging to his front. When he had mentioned that fact, Yume had glanced to the sides and then given him a pout. While Ichika hadn't dated, he'd been around girls for the past three years and had built up a repertoire to dealing with women. It helped that this situation had actually come up before, with Houki, Charl and Laura, making his decision easier.

So, Ichika had politely suggested that Yume ride on his back, like he had with Laura. The look of delight that had spread into her eyes was beyond anything Ichika had expected and completely opposite of Laura's embarrassed face. In one motion, Yume had slid her hands up to his shoulders and pulled, performing an incredibly acrobatic leap that landed her lightly on Ichika's shoulders, all the while one hand touching him.

That had solved the first problem; the second had been Ichika's bags, one with his things and the other with Akitsu's extra outfits. That had been taken care of by Akitsu, who had simply materialized a disk of ice underneath the two bags and floated them into her hand, ending any argument he might have had. The rest of the walk had been relatively normal, if quiet, though Ichika got lost once and had a hard time adjusting his steps to Musubi's and Akitsu's.

The reminiscing had gotten them to the walk of the Inn, and Ichika could already see the next problem. There was a short ceiling over the front porch and Yume still didn't seem like she wanted to let go.

"Ah, Yume," he said as they walked closer to the door.

"Yes Ichika-sama," she said, seemingly unaware of the upcoming issue.

"I think you need to get down now," he said, a slight guilt in his voice, "So you don't hit yourself on the roof."

There was a disappointed noise above him and Yume's hands were once again on his shoulders. Ichika felt a pause and then Yume was supported only by her hands on him. With a small movement she shifted herself and then landed against his back with her legs around his waist and arms around his neck, once again never letting go.

"Is this better Ichika-sama," she said, her pleased sounding voice right in his ear.

"Ahh, yes, that's better Yume," said Ichika, his voice slightly bemused.

Walking up to the door, Ichika paused, unable to knock on the door because of the girls on his arms. Looking at both of them, neither Akitsu nor Musubi seemed to care about the door, simply willing to stand outside holding Ichika. Ichika turned to look at Yume, whose head was resting on his right shoulder.

"Yume," he said, looking right into her eye, "Could you knock on the door please."

Yume gave him a small smile and reached out with one hand and lightly rapped on the door.

"Coming!" said a lightly cheerful voice from inside.

A few seconds later the door slid to the side and Ichika was looking into the face of a younger looking middle aged lady with purple hair and eyes.

They exchanged looks for a few seconds, Ichika aware of how odd he must look with a girl on each arm and one clinging to his back.

"You must be our new guest," said the lady, looking at Ichika, her face questioning, her eyes then glancing at the girls, "Though you appear to have brought some friends…"

"Uhm, yeah," said Ichika, "I was just walking here and happened to see them after a long time and they were… very excited to see me."

"I see," said the lady, her face changing to amusement as she hid her mouth behind her hand and giggled slightly. "I'm Miya, Miya Asama. I'm the landlady here at Izumo Inn."

"Ichika Orimura," said Ichika, "And this is Akitsu, Musubi and Yume." Ichika nodded his head in the direction of each girl as he spoke.

"Well, come in," said Miya, "Its cold outside and you all look like you could use dinner."

At the mention of dinner there were two large growls from Ichika's sides and a smaller one from behind him.

Giving Miya a wry smile Ichika said, "Yes, that would be nice."

The landlady giggled again and led them inside. Looking around, Ichika could see that the inside was as traditional as the outside, all shoji doors, tatami mats and well taken care of wood. Miya led them past a couple of rooms and then opened one of the doors, revealing a rather comfy looking dining room. There was a grey haired young man inside, who gave Ichika a look similar to Miya's as he walked into the room.

"Kagari," said Miya, "This is our new guest, Ichika and his friends, Yume, Musubi and Akitsu."

"Hello," said Ichika, "It's a pleasure to meet you. I'd shake your hand but…" Ichika shrugged.

The man, Kagari, gave Ichika a wry smile, "Its fine," he said in a slightly husky voice, "I can see that they're quite…attached to you." Turning to Miya he said, "I'm sorry Miya, but I need to go to work. One of the other hosts called in sick and I need to cover for them."

"You can't stay for dinner?" asked Miya, her voice concerned.

"No, I'm sorry," Kagari said, standing and heading towards the door. "Nice to meet you," said the man as he quickly walked by Ichika and the girls.

"And you," said Ichika, turning to nod at the slightly built man as he left.

The pale man slid the door shut after him, leaving Ichika alone with Miya, the girls still clinging onto his arms and back.

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

Out in the hallway, Kagari or depending on who you asked, Homura, clutched his chest as he leaned up against the wall. "Not good," he thought, "He nearly made me react right there." Taking a deep breath he tried to calm himself. "Ok," he thought, "It's alright, I just need to stay away from him and I won't…" It was then that his heart started beating faster again, his normally hot core heating up even more. Breathing heavily, he stumbled towards his room, determined to get outside and away, at least temporarily, from this unknown Ashikabi.

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

Inside the dining room, after Kagari had left and Miya went to get the food, Ichika had managed to convince Akitsu and Musubi let go of his arms so he could eat. Yume had taken some more convincing, but had finally relented after he said she could sit next to him. She had taken the seat to his right, while Akitsu had taken the one on the left. Musubi had pouted briefly, but perked up when Miya came through the door carrying a very delicious looking dinner.

"Landlady!" the perky brunette said excitedly, "It smells so good!"

Miya smiled at Musubi as she laid the plates down, "Oh it's nothing special, just keeping my skills up."

Ichika couldn't help but agree with Musubi as he took the first bite of the fish Miya had cooked. "If this isn't anything special," he said as he savored his food, "I can't wait till we have a chance at your good cooking."

Miya smiled at him and twittered behind her hand, before waving her other one at him and speaking, "Oh Orimura-san, are you trying to butter up your landlady before you're even moved in?"

Taking another bite, he chewed before saying, "If it means more food like this, then, yes, I am. I can cook pretty well, but this is really good."

Eating some of her own food, Miya asked, "Oh, you cook? Most of the men I know couldn't cook to save their life."

Ichika smiled, "Yeah, but growing up it was just me and my sister. She was always busy working so I had to learn how to cook unless I wanted to eat cup noodles and take out every night."

Yume and Akitsu looked up from their food briefly to look at Ichika when he mentioned growing up and an embarrassed look crossed Miya's face. "Oh, I'm sorry," she said, "I hope I didn't bring up something I shouldn't have."

Ichika looked up at the landlady and then to the two women at his sides, a confused look on his face, "Oh, no, I'm fine," he said, waving his hand in negation as he figured out what they meant, "I don't even remember my parents and I love my sister dearly, so it's not a big deal."

"Well, as long as you're fine," said Miya, a relieved look quickly passing across her face before she returned to eating.

Akitsu and Yume looked at Ichika a bit longer; Akitsu's face impassive, Yume's concerned, before they went back to eating. Akitsu ate in a deliberate manner that seemed at odds with the speed at which her food disappeared. Yume ate fast as well, though hers was less deliberate than Akitsu's. Musubi had continued eating throughout, energetically stuffing her face with the delicious food.

Ichika turned to his food and began eating in earnest. He was always a slightly bigger eater, but the excitement of the evening and carrying Yume for a couple miles had made him hungrier than normal, not that he'd ever admit that last fact even under torture. The rest of the meal preceded quietly, Ichika and his girls eating because they were hungry while Miya was apparently deep in thought.

Ichika looked up when he finished and discovered that he was actually the last one done, even behind Miya. Sighing slightly he set down his chopsticks and rubbed his stomach. "That was amazing Asama-san," he said happily.

The landlady smiled at him when he said that and said, "It was nothing. And please, call me Miya, we don't stand on ceremony here at Izumo Inn."

"Alright Miya," said Ichika, "Then please call me Ichika."

"You can call Musubi Musubi!" said Ichika's most excitable Sekirei, "Oh, wait…"

Miya simply smiled and chuckled again like she was apparently wont to do, "Of course," she said, "Would you like to go to your room now?"

Ichika nodded, "It's been a long day and we need to catch up," he said, nodding towards his Sekirei, "It's been awhile since we've seen each other." Which was technically true in the case of Yume and Musubi but Ichika had other motives as well. During the course of dinner he had realized that there was likely something big going on and he should probably inquire into it before he did something stupid.

Miya nodded as well and stood up, followed by Ichika and the girls. Heading towards the staircase she spoke up, "I know you are just a staying for a few weeks Ichika, but I want you to make yourself at home. I consider all residents of Izumo House to be family, even temporary ones."

"Thank you Miya," replied Ichika, "I will." Glancing back at the three girls he asked, "Miya, about Yume, Musubi and Akitsu, would it be ok…"

Miya turned slightly and smiled, cutting of Ichika's question, saying, "Of course, my husband would never turn away anyone in need and neither would I. I would ask that you help around the house though."

Ichika nodded, "Of course," he answered.

From behind Ichika came the sound of agreement from the others; A clink of chains that indicated Akitsu nodding, a "Mhmm" from Musubi and "Certainly" from Yume.

Miya smiled again, apparently pleased that Ichika and the others had so readily agreed to help with the chores. Turning at a door she gestured with her hands, "This is your room, number two oh two. I cleaned it after your teacher called me."

"Thank you," said Ichika, bowing a little, "I will treat it like I do my own."

Miya chuckled, "I hope you're not one of those messy boys," she teased.

Ichika laughed, "No, my sister would kill me if I let my room get messy."

"Good," laughed Miya, "Now, I will leave the four of you to catch up." Heading back downstairs, Miya paused at the top and faced Ichika again. "Ichika?" she called, getting his attention.

"Yes?" he said, turning so he could see Miya.

"I'm allowing you to share the room, but there are no lewd acts allowed in Izumo Inn, is that understood?" As Miya said this, a dark aura seemed to appear in the air behind her, hinting at worse things to come if the rule was not followed.

Ichika gulped and nodded, "Understood Asama-san," he replied, using the formal wording to try and persuade her he was serious.

As soon as the words were out of his mouth the aura vanished and standing there was the normal Miya. "That is all," she said, a little smile curling at the edge of her mouth before she stepped down and out of Ichika's view.

Ichika shook himself, trying to get rid of the aura of fear that had so easily overwhelmed him. Turning, he opened the door to his temporary accommodations; hoping getting out of the hall would help.

Stepping inside with the three girls following him, he was greeted by what was nearly an empty room. There was a small desk in one corner, that looked like it had been put there recently, and a slightly large futon in the middle of the room. Other than that the room contained a closet, a ceiling light and a window.

"Well," he said, turning to face the others with a slightly embarrassed look on his face, "I guess this is home for now, sorry it's not much but then again I'm not paying for it."

"It is fine," said Yume with a small smile, "Anywhere with you is good enough Ichika."

"Yeah!" said Musubi, agreeing with her more mature and less busty look-alike. Though, as Ichika thought about it, Musubi was actually the one who looked like Yume, not the other way around.

"Home..." was the only thing Akitsu said, though coming from her it as if it was one of the most profound things she had ever heard.

"So," Ichika said, setting down the bags he had picked up, sitting down on the futon and looking as the three women sat down in a small arc in front of him.

"So..." he said again, his thoughts starting to falter under the gaze of the three females. Individually he could have dealt with them, but Musubi's cheerful obliviousness, Yume's seeming hyper-attentiveness and Akitu's intensity combined to overwhelm him. He hadn't felt like this since first year at the academy when he had simply been swarmed by the girls there.

"Yes Ichika?" asked Yume as he failed to continue his thoughts.

"Uhm...," he fought for time as he organized his thoughts. "What exactly is going on?" he finally asked, "I mean, meeting you three is all rather sudden and I realized that there's something bigger going on, but I have no idea about any of it and that makes me nervous."

Yume nodded, the other two seeming to let her take the lead when it came to talking. "The short answer is that you are our Ashikabi and we are your Sekirei," she said, her voice managing to calm the brief nerves Ichika had developed.

"Right," Ichika nodded at that, "I remembered that." He looked up at Yume and then to Musubi and Akitsu, a wry grin on his face, "But you three don't look like Wagtails and I have absolutely no idea what an Ashikabi is."

Yume smiled at Ichika, "No, we might not be real wagtails but there's enough similarities that you might say we are all little birds that got set free." She paused enough for Ichika to nod at her to continue. "We Sekirei," she put her hands on her chest and then gestured at the other two, "are beings from another planet. One hundred and eight of us have landed on Earth seeking our Ashikabi's, or "Destined Ones"." She looked deeply into his eyes and continued, "They are our beloved, the only one in the world who loves and completes us. We know our Ashikabi's when we see them or are near them, our bodies react and when we kiss them our bond forms and we get the Sekirei crest on our backs." She made a gesture towards her own.

Ichika had a thoughtful look on his face as Yume stopped finished explaining. "And that's it?" he asked, voice mildly incredulous, "You just "find" your Ashikabi? Just like that? And if you do then why did all three of you react to me? Shouldn't it only be one?"

Yume made a brief face of displeasure, "It's a little more complicated than that, sometimes it takes more, like the Ashikabi doing something that attracts the Sekirei, but basically yes. For all three of us to react to you

"As to why all three of us reacted to you well," Yume looked down and bit her lip before speaking again, "We don't know." Looking up at Ichika she spoke softly, "According to everything we know the three of us shouldn't have been able to be winged."

"You...what?" asked Ichika.

"We...we shouldn't have been able to be winged," answered Yume, her voice low, some deep emotion hidden inside it.

Ichika looked at both Musubi and Akitsu to see if their faces would give anything away, but he had no such luck with either. Musubi was still smiling and Akitsu's face remained mostly blank. Turning back to Yume he said, "That's…not bad is it? I didn't break some rule that you got punished for or something did I?"

Yume's face turned shocked when Ichika said that. "What? No!" she said, shaking her hands negatively, "Nothing like that, it was just that we were…we were…"

"Broken," came from Akitsu, drawing both Ichika and Yume's attention, "We were broken and you fixed us."

Ichika's face took on a mildly shocked look and then turned to Yume for confirmation. The brown haired girl seemingly paused a second and then nodded in confirmation. "She's right," came her voice quietly, her face tilted down in slight sadness "All of us were broken before we met you." Her voice grew in volume but was still sad as she continued, "Musubi would have died without your intervention," she paused there, gathering her thoughts, "for Akitsu and I, well they called it "Self Winging"," she shook her head, "But what it really meant was that we would never know our purpose, the love of our Ashikabi."

As she looked up at him, the look in her eyes let Ichika know that she considered that worse than dying. Being dead just meant you were dead. But to live and watch the rest of your kind do what you could never, especially when that was find true love…

Ichika was broken out of his reverie as Yume took his left hand and placed it on her left breast, directly over her heart.

"But you saved us from that, gave us back our true purpose in life," she said, completely uncaring that Ichika was…well…groping her. "Can you feel it Ichika-sama?" she asked as she pressed his hand to her chest with both of hers, "Can you feel how fast my heart is beating because of you?"

Ichika could indeed feel her heartbeat, along with something else he thought. It was pumping fast with excitement or nerves, just as his was. He nodded to Yume, uncertain his words would come out.

Then his right hand was grabbed and thrust onto a much larger, yet just as soft chest. Turning, he saw Musubi holding it onto her heart, which was just as quick as Yume's. "Me too," she said, "Ever since we found you, my heart just won't stop going doki-doki."

There was a soft rustle of cloth and then Ichika felt Akitsu press herself completely against his back, head on his shoulder and arms wrapped around his waist. "Warm," she said, her voice quiet yet not soft, "You have given me warmth for the first time in a very long time Ichika-sama."

While it wasn't Ichika's first time at second base, it wasn't exactly a common occurrence. Much less when there were three girls, all pressing against him. Managing to clear his throat he stuttered out, "But I don't even…I didn't do anything…"

Yume smiled at that, moving closer to him. "But you did Ichika, you saved both my life and Musubi's," she said, which got her a gawk from Ichika. Smiling sadly, Yume answered the unasked question, "I was prepared to give my Tama to Musubi, so she could live and find love like I thought I never could." A full smile appeared on her face as she continued, "But you saved us both Ichika."

Akitsu spoke again from his shoulder, "You were the first to care Ichika-sama, the first in a long time to think about me and not demand anything in return. You were kind, offered to help me for nothing and when the other Ashikabi came, you did not hesitate to protect me despite the danger to yourself. I would have followed you then, but you fixed me as well, gave me back my purpose."

"That is why we love you Ichika," said Yume, who was now nearly as close to Ichika as Akitsu was, "You protect and care for us, the ones who were thought to be useless."

Ichika was now rather red and his heart was beating faster than he could ever remember. But he managed to nod, even as all three of his Sekirei pressed closer…

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

In a screen-lit room down the hall, another of Izumo Inn's guests watched with mixed emotions as the four new tenants talked. Matsu chewed on the end of one of her red braids as Yume, Akitsu and Musubi slowly but steadily got closer to Ichika.

"Ooh," she muttered under her breath, "part of Matsu wants to see them experiment on him. But the other wants to experiment on him myself…"

"What was that Matsu?" came Miya's voice from the gloom behind her, "did I hear you talking about committing lewd acts inside Izumo Inn?"

Whirling around with a shocked look on her face Matsu was confronted with a scarily smiling landlady. "N-no, of course not Miya-tan," said the red haired Sekirei, "I was talking about Ichika-tan and his Sekirei…" Matsu trailed off as Miya stared hard at her, not seeming to hear the words she was speaking.

"You're reacting to him, aren't you Matsu?" said Miya, apropos of nothing.

"W-what?!" exclaimed a red faced Matsu, "No! Of course not! How could you even suggest…" Matsu's protest's trailed off as Miya continued staring at her. "W-well maybe, Miya-tan," Matsu finally admitted, turning back towards the screen, "I mean it's not like he's smart, good looking and has one of the most advanced pieces of technology on the planet attached to his wrist…"

Turning back, Matsu realized that at some point Miya had disappeared again. "Ooh, Miya," she pouted, turning back to the increasingly dangerous scene on the monitor, "You can't just leave a girl after getting her to spill her feelings…"

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

Back in his room, Ichika was being overwhelmed by the sight, smell and feel of three beautiful females that seemed to desperately want to nothing but to press themselves ever closer to him. But even then there was something else, something making him want them back as much as they wanted him even though he was fighting hard to repress it. As Yume started to raise her face towards him Ichika managed to speak again, "Ahh, Yume, Musubi, Akitsu," he said hesitantly, trying to lean away from Yume, but only managing to tilt his head back because of how firmly Akitsu was pressed against his back, "I-I don't think we should keep…I really don't think the landlady would like seeing us like this…"

Just as Yume was about to kiss Ichika, the door to the room slid open and a dark aura rolled into the room, freezing them all in place. Turning his head, Ichika saw a scarily cheerful Miya holding what appeared to be more futons.

"Orimura-san," came Miya's carefully modulated yet terrifying voice, "I thought we had discussed my position on lewdness in Izumo."

"Ah, Asama-san…I…I mean…" managed Ichika, who couldn't think of a way out of this one.

"It was my fault Asama-san," said Yume with a surprisingly clear voice, "It's been such a long time since I've seen Ichika-sama I couldn't help myself. It won't happen again, I promise."

Ichika looked down at Yume, finding her face to be open, with no trace of deception and thankfully several more inches away than it had been. Turning back to Miya, he felt the aura of terror recede as she nodded once. "Very well," said the purple haired landlady, "I will let it pass this once, do not let it happen again."

Stepping fully into the room she set two more futons on the ground. "I brought these so you could all sleep well," she said a knowing smile on her face, "separately."

"Thank you Asama-san," said Ichika, calming now that the three girls had pulled away slightly. The strange feeling of want also seemed to be gone, wherever it had come from.

With another slightly terrifying smile, Miya bowed and left.

Sighing heavily Ichika stood and started laying out the futons that Miya had left. His Sekirei stood and helped, making the work go quickly. As they finished Yume spoke up quietly.

"I'm sorry Ichika," she said quietly, "It really was my fault that happened."

"It's ok Yume," said Ichika, "It's my fault as well; I shouldn't have let Miya see us like that."

"But…"

"Yume, its fine," said Ichika, putting a hand on her shoulder, "Let's just forget about it and go to bed ok?"

Yume smiled slightly and nodded, "Ok Ichika."

Turning to make sure Musubi and Akitsu were ok, Ichika quickly turned back around, his face slightly red as he put his hand to it.

"Musubi, Akitsu, why are you taking your clothes off?" he asked, voice strained.

"It's bedtime!" said Musubi cheerfully, "You don't wear your clothes to bed do you Ichika-sama?"

Ichika sighed heavily at this, "No, I don't," he said slowly, "But I wear at least SOMETHING to bed."

"But we've got our panties on!" said the happily oblivious ditz.

"Yume…" said Ichika turning towards who he thought of as his most normal Sekirei, before turning back much faster, "Yume why are you getting undressed too," he asked, voice strained.

"Hmm?" said Yume, "It's not a problem for you to see us naked Ichika."

"Yes, yes it is," said Ichika, trying to calm himself slightly, "I don't think Asama san would approve of you three being naked around me, especially at night."

Yume paused and looked over her shoulder at Ichika, "Then what should we wear Ichika? We don't have any other clothes."

Ichika paused at that, they really didn't have anything with them besides the clothes on their backs. He didn't want to ask Miya, she was already aggravated at them and he didn't want to admit he had been in the room with the girls naked.

"My bag," he said, "In my bag there should be enough shirts for all of you."

Ichika waited a minute, listening to the various rustling sounds as the girls rummaged through his things and put them on.

"We're all done now Ichika-sama!" cheered Musubi from beside his ear as she gave him a sudden hug from behind.

Turning around, Ichika sighed inwardly, making a note to get the girls sleeping clothes. Yume was wearing one of his workout shirts, leaving her in what appeared to be an indecently short white dress, while Akitsu and Musubi had both grabbed one of his uniform over shirts, leaving them unsealed nearly to their navels so their busts could fit.

"Alright, good," he said managing not to sigh out loud, "That will do for tonight, tomorrow we need to get you some that fit."

"But this fits me fine Ichika," said Yume, swirling a bit.

"Yes, well, Akitsu and Musubi need something so we'll grab you clothes too," Ichika answered quickly, "Besides, I need those."

"Alright Ichika," said Yume, her face turning into a slight pout.

"What are you wearing to bed Ichika-sama?" asked Musubi in the same innocent tone she always used.

Ichika froze at this, realizing that he had completely forgotten one very important detail. He still hadn't changed, and his three years of experience had taught him that removing his clothes in front of any female except his sister was a BAD THING. Based on what had happened barely ten minutes ago, he thought that changing right now would probably qualify as a REALLY BAD THING, but he had no choice.

Moving his hands to his jacket he started undoing it as he replied to Musubi, "I wear my shirt and shorts to bed Musubi," he said calmly as his removed jacket. Dropping it on the ground without turning, he leaned over and removed his shoes even as he felt stares on him. Finally finishing undressing, he turned back around to see Yume and Akitsu staring intently while Musubi appeared to be looking because the others were.

"Is there something wrong?" he asked, trying not to give away the nerves he was feeling.

"No, nothing's wrong," said Yume a little glibly as she stared at Ichika.

"Indeed," said Akitsu, who appeared to be minutely examining every inch of Ichika.

"Good," said Ichika, clapping his hands together, "Then it's bed time!" Matching actions to words he then turned off the lights and crawled into his futon, to the noticeable disappointment of Yume.

"Goodnight Ichika-sama!" said Musubi cheerfully as she crawled into one of the other futon's.

"Goodnight Musubi," Ichika said, unable to repress a small smile at the girls enthusiasm.

"Ah, goodnight Master," said Akitsu, apparently just remembering to get in a futon herself.

"Goodnight Akitsu," said Ichika, trying to put "warmth" in his voice.

"Goodnight Ichika," said Yume with just a hint of longing as she climbed in next to Musubi.

"Goodnight Yume," replied Ichika, trying to sound reassuring.

With that little ritual completed Ichika finally managed to relax himself, doing his best to leave his mind empty and fall asleep despite just learning he was now partnered with three super-powered aliens.

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

It was a flat, black plain and sky. Ichika looked around, wondering what kind of dream this could be. Then he smelled fire. Turning he saw the man he had met early tonight, Kagari, except this time he had on a long black cape and was on fire.

"Why you, why you damnit," said Kagari, who was breathing heavily, "Of all the people…"

"Wait, what's going on?" asked Ichika, "What do you mean?"

Kagari started to laugh then, a low chuckle. "Of course, of course you don't even mean to. Of all the ways for this to happen…" The flames on Kagari started burning brighter, hotter even as Ichika stood there.

"Wait," he said, trying to get closer despite the flames, "I really don't understand!"

There was just another bout of laughter and then the flames spread straight towards him…

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

With a start Ichika's eyes popped open and he nearly ran into Yume as he sat up abruptly.

"Ichika, are you ok?" Yume asked, "You were moving in your sleep and…"

"I'm fine Yume," he said, shaking his head, "just a bad dream."

Blinking the last of the sleepiness out of his eyes he turned to his worried looking Sekirei. "What about you? Was I that loud?"

"Ah, no," said Yume, turning her face down a little, "I just couldn't sleep and so I heard you…"

"You couldn't sleep?" asked Ichika, "Is that because of me?"

"Well…yes and no," said Yume, shyly looking up at him, "I haven't slept well in a long time, but that's not your fault. But since you're right here…" she trailed off, leaving the implications open for Ichika to get.

Ichika shook his head, he had hoped that simply being in the same room would be enough, but it was now clear to him that he had little understanding of how deep the connection went between him and his Sekirei. If Yume was like this simply from his presence…well it didn't matter, he had a way to help, even if it might cause problems in the morning.

"Come on then," he said, raising the edge of the futon so Yume could slip in with him.

There was only a little gasp from Yume, then she quickly shuffled in, at first nearly wrapping herself around Ichika but then backing off so that she was merely cuddling against his side.

"Better?" he asked, looking down at her with a small smile on his face.

Yume nodded against his side, a bigger smile on her face, "Much," she said, "I don't think I could tell you how many times I've wished we could be like this."

"Well, if it really is the difference between a good-night's sleep or not, then I guess I don't mind," said Ichika. It wasn't that he was actually against sleeping in the same futon as Yume at all, he thought, just that it was all a little weird for him to be as ok with it as he was after years of trying to keep girls OUT of his bed.

Yume just snuggled a little closer and let out a happy sigh. Ichika looked at her for a second, something stirring inside him as he saw how happy she seemed to be. But even as he tried to go back to sleep himself, he felt…something.

Raising his head he looked around the room. Nothing seemed to be out of the ordinary, both Musubi and Akitsu appeared to be…

"Akitsu," he asked with sudden intuition, "are you awake?"

There was a short pause like always and then he heard a simple, "Yes," come from the frost woman.

"Would you like to sleep in my futon too?" he asked again, already learning how the snow woman thought.

"I would like that," she said slowly.

"Then come on, I have another side, you can sleep here too," he said.

There was more rustling and then the snow woman softly padded over to Ichika's futon, where she climbed in, but seemed hesitant to actually touch him with anything other than her chest, which she couldn't have avoided unless she slept outside the futon in the first place.

With a small movement Ichika put his left arm around Akitsu's shoulders and pulled gently so that her head was resting softly against his chest.

"Is that better?" he asked the rapidly blushing Sekirei.

"Yes…" came the extra quiet whisper, an undeniably happy note inside.

Ichika smiled at that, he had a feeling Akitsu was not one who had had many happy moments in her life. With a sigh he tried to go back to sleep, now with two very soft and attractive females pressed against him. His last thought before darkness overtook him was that maybe this wasn't so bad.

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

"What do you mean you can't call him?!" whined Hiroto Minaka, the President of MBI. With his all white clothing and high backed cape he looked and sounded more like a petulant super-villain, but the fact remained he was indeed the one who had built MBI from the ground up. "We put up those satellites exactly so I could contact any of the Plan members at any time!"

"I'm sorry sir, I don't know what to tell you," answered the hapless communications tech, "Every time we try to contact his mobile we get cut off before the first ring. And even we can't get into his IS communicator directly."

"Well make it work!" said Minaka, "I must contact each of the Ashikabi's myself, especially such an important one as him!"

"Stop whining," said Takami Sahashi as she walked in the door, "We figured out what's happening."

"Ah, my lovely Takami, I knew I could count on you!" said Minaka, as he attempted to give her a flying hug.

Takami casually smacked him out of the air with her clipboard and then went back to looking at it. "Somebody has inserted a virus into our system," she read casually, "It is preventing us from contacting Mr. Orimura until ten thirty tomorrow afternoon. Then it will open a ten minute window in which to contact him, after which it will again prevent us from contacting him directly, though there appears to be provisions to let text messages go to a different location. The current prognosis is that unless we purge the entire system, it will take us approximately a week to remove the virus."

Looking up at the again standing President Takami continued speaking in a matter of fact voice, "In short, someone doesn't want us contacting Mr. Orimura unless they feel it is necessary and they have the ability to enforce that on us despite our best security attempts."

Minaka paused at that, his face showing the rate at which his impressive mind was moving.

"Of course we ran the known people who could even possibly do such a thing and the most likely person on our list was,"

"Don't say the name," said Minaka, "Don't say that name Takami you know how it makes me feel."

"Since you obviously know who I'm talking about, then you know we have no choice but to play the game that's been set up," said Takami, voice impassive.

"I know," said Minaka angrily, "I know. This was supposed to be my game, mine! And she had to go and screw it all up just like she always does!"

Takami stood there, blank faced as her nominal boss vented his anger.

With a sigh Minaka turned towards Takami again, "Tomorrow at ten thirty?" he asked, voice heavy.

Takami simply nodded affirmative.

"Fine, then tomorrow at ten thirty I'll be ready for our newest Ashikabi," Minaka said with a grin, "Or should I say our oldest?"

With that Minaka started to cackle, equal to any movie super-villain. At least until the clipboard knocked him off his feet again.

"Shut up you idiot," said Takami, "You know I hate that."

Minaka just chuckled from the ground as Takami sighed and lit another cigarette.

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

Ichika awoke at 6:30 on the dot like he normally did. However it took him a moment to remember why he couldn't move his limbs or sit up straight. Looking to both sides of himself, he saw Yume and Akitsu both curled up against him. There was also a new addition in the form of Musubi, who was draped over top of him, drooling into the middle of his chest.

Letting out a snort, Ichika gently flexed his arms to see if the sleeping Sekirei would let go. Neither Yume nor Akitsu let go but Yume murmured sleepily and Akitsu's eyes opened near instantly into wakefulness and focused on his face.

"Good morning Akitsu," said Ichika as he saw his ice Sekirei looking at him.

"Ahh, Good morning master," said Akitsu, again blushing at the proximity between them.

"It's Ichika Akitsu," he said, "try saying it."

"Ichika…san" Akitsu, slowly, turning even redder.

"Better," he said, "Can you let go of my arm, I need to get up."

With a nod the ice Sekirei released his arm and sat Seiza next to him, assuming a posture that Ichika found to be…entirely to stimulating for his own good due to her attire or rather her lack thereof.

Turning his attention to his other arm he found a sleepily awake Yume looking at him. "Mmm, good morning Ichika," she said, yawning as she nuzzled his shoulder, "Is it time to get up?"

"Yes Yume it's time to get up," he said, moving his arm slightly, "I need you to let go of my arm though."

Yume made a grumpy noise but let go of his arm, then reached over and flicked Musubi precisely in the forehead with a familiarity that spoke of long practice, causing the previously snoring Sekirei to immediately pop up into a kneeling position.

"Whu, is it morning already?" asked Musubi, with a great big yawn and stretch that Ichika was glad to be able to scoot away from.

"Yes Musubi it's morning, time for forms," said Yume as she moved towards her clothes.

"Alright," said the busty Sekirei who also immediately started to strip out of the shirt Ichika had loaned her.

"Not while I'm in the room!" said Ichika, moving towards the door with haste.

Shutting the door behind him with a slight thud, Ichika leaned up against it and sighed, looking to his right as he thought he saw some movement. But there was just the end of the hallway and the stairs. Turning to his left however he did see a fluffy head of brown hair blearily staring at him.

"Ah hello," he said, trying his best to make a good first impression despite only being in a shirt and boxers.

"Too loud," muttered the head, "too early." Then it withdrew back into its room with a click.

Wondering who exactly that was Ichika was shaken just a bit as the door behind him opened, revealing all three of his Sekirei dressed and read for the day.

"We're all ready Ichika!" said Musubi excitedly, throwing her hands into the air.

"Well I'm not, so you need to let me change," he said with a small grin at her enthusiasm.

"Ok," she said, stepping out of his way, allowing Ichika to move to his bag of clothes. Grabbing them and starting to remove his shirt Ichika paused as he realized that he hadn't heard the door shut again. Turning he saw all three of his Sekirei looking at him.

"You can't watch me change either," he said, waving his hands at them, "Outside please."

There was a look of disappointment on Yume's face as she sighed and possibly Akitsu's but all three of them did move out and shut the door, allowing Ichika to quickly change into his workout clothes.

Opening the door he found that Yume and Musubi had left, leaving Akitsu standing by the door.

"Where did the other two go?" Ichika asked Akitsu.

"Musubi insisted that Yume go with her to start training," Akitsu said, falling in behind Ichika as he walked down the stairs.

"Well I guess I'd better get started myself," he replied as he moved towards the sound of sparring.

Instead of the sight he had expected to see, he saw Yume standing by, watching Musubi taking swings at Miya who was seemingly effortlessly dodging while occasionally poking back at the excitable girl with a cane sword. While he could see that Musubi was the less skilled of the two, she wasn't unskilled by any means; it simply looked like Miya was that much better.

Stepping next to Yume Ichika stood and watched as his Sekirei went after the landlady with what appeared to be her all of her might.

"Is she always like this?" he asked Yume.

"What? Going after her goal with everything?" replied Yume, still watching the ongoing spar, "That's just how she is, she doesn't do anything less than 100%."

"Sounds like a handful," Ichika watched as Miya poked Musubi again, causing the girl to back off only slightly before re-engaging.

"Just a little, it helps that she means well," Yume turned towards Ichika, glancing at his attire, "are you here to train too?"

"Every morning," he said, stretching out his limbs, "Have to keep in shape if I want to win the nationals again next year."

"Win the nationals?" Yume looked at Ichika with surprise, "In what?"

Ichika looked at Yume with surprise, "Kendo, I would've thought you would know about that considering, well, everything."

"MBI wouldn't let me," said Yume, looking down at the ground, "I tried but they kept me from ever really finding out anything. The first news I really heard was when you activated that IS."

"Why?" asked Ichika, "I mean if I'm your Ashikabi wouldn't they want you to meet me?"

"MBI doesn't have our best interests in mind…" said Yume trailing off slightly at the end, as if she was holding something back. Judging by the look on her face Ichika thought that emotion might be rage. She shook her head, "You'll learn more later," she said looking at him, "MBI contacts all Ashikabis and HE can explain it better than I can."

Ichika wondered who "HE" was, but decided against asking her. "Well, whatever's coming we should still get started," he said lightly, placing a hand on Yume's shoulder, "Don't want to get sloppy now do we?"

Yume shook her head and a small smile broke through the gloom on her face, "No, no we don't."

With a final pat on her shoulder Ichika moved into the yard, away from where Musubi and Miya were still going at it and started stretching. After warming up he began exercises, focusing on reach and movement with strength coming afterwards. Yume joined him, going through her own set of warm-ups and forms.

After about forty five minutes of working out, Ichika, Yume and Musubi had worked up a nice sweat, but Miya seemed as composed as ever. With a soft wipe of his brow Ichika turned towards Miya as she grinned at them.

"There's a bath upstairs," she said, "I think that you would all benefit from using it." She pointed at Ichika, "You go first," she smiled at the other three in her slightly scary manner, a black cloud seemingly hovering in the air, "I'll make sure you aren't disturbed."

Ichika nodded back to her, acknowledging the order that was formed as a polite request. With a little shrug he went to his room, grabbed a change of clothes and then went into the bath.

It took just a short time to change, run the water and begin to bathe. As he was washing his hair he heard the door open. Strange…Miya said she wouldn't let anyone disturb him. Washing the last of the suds from his head, he felt a set of breasts press against his back, arms wrapping around his waist as a long lock of hair fell over his shoulder.

It was red.

AN: I wont give you any crap about time or anything, this took forever and a half for a short, rather shitty chapter. But hopefully seeing what you guys think will get me to write more. So, let me know what you think.

LTPugh.