It Started with a Kiss Chapter 4

AN: Oh look, I'm not dead. Hope you enjoy an update three years coming. Questions and comments are welcome as always.

It said much about Ichika's years at the IS Academy that he had not only become used to random girls sneaking into his bath, he had a process for determining the correct response.

The first and most obvious thing that he always did was to determine the girls approach. They fell under two broad categories, the bold and the nervous. Judging by the way the girl had spent absolutely zero time walking up to and pressing herself against him, she fell rather deep into the "bold" category. That left him with a rather simple and straightforward problem, self-preservation and escape. He actually preferred it that way, the nervous ones he sometimes felt bad about stopping since they were usually egged on by their friends.

A glance over his shoulder confirmed that yes, he had no idea who this was and the soft giggle she admitted when she caught sight of him looking was perverted enough for Yukari, leaving him with no bad feelings about what he did next.

Resting his left hand on hers lightly, he gave the impression that he was perfectly fine with what she was doing, causing her to giggle again as she lifted her hands, apparently encouraged by his touch, which was what it was supposed to do. But as soon as her hands lost purchase around his waist, his other hand shot out, grabbed her left arm along with the one already touching it and then twisted, eliciting a squawk from the girl as his deceptively strong frame whirled her around, pulling her off her feet even as he angled himself for a sprint out of the room.

Even as Ichika's hands let go of the strange girls arm, completing the maneuver and flinging her towards the wall, his feet were pushing him towards the door. The only additional movement he made was a hand dropping to his towel; it had only taken one naked and thankfully picture free chase around the Academy for him to make that a permanent part of all escape plans. Flinging the door open and then shut, he dashed into the changing room.

Feet not stopping, he dashed for the other side of the changing room even as he heard a mildly panicked "No!" come from behind him. The outer door slammed open, feet propelling him even faster as he heard "I need your DNA!"

"Help!" he yelled, trying to be loud but not really sound panicked, he'd had a few girls shout similar things and they were the ones who never gave up until others were involved. One had even tried to claim that he'd been forcing himself on her, even after she chased him through roughly half of the academy.

"Musubi, Yume, Akitsu, Miya, somebody help!" he yelled again, feet pounding down the stairs and towards the last known location of the quartet. He wasn't scared, he just hated dealing with things like this and with the events of last night he'd hoped this day would be peaceful. It did not look like he'd get his wish today…or likely any day soon he thought as he remembered what else had happened recently.

"Ichika-san what are you…" said Musubi as her head popped around the corner of what Ichika was pretty sure was the dining room.

"No time to explain, crazy pervert chasing after me!" he said, diving past the ditzy girl, running almost directly into Akitsu before bouncing off and crashing into Yume, managing to knock her down and somehow land in her lap.

It was then that the red haired pervert skidded to a stop in front of the still open door, her chest heaving and glasses glinting evilly. Upon seeing Ichika, still barely decent in his towel, sitting in a rather stunned Yume's lap she shouted "No! I need his DNA, not fair!" Then she prepared to leap at him.

"Akitsu, Musubi, stop the pervert!" he yelled, realizing that Yume was in no position to help him at the moment.

"What's a pervert?" asked Musubi, even as the red haired girl took a flying leap directly at Ichika…and ended up face planting into a wall of ice that Akitsu had summoned, eliciting another squawk from her.

"Owowowow…." Said the pervert from behind the still extant ice wall, giving Ichika enough time to sigh and glance down at Yume, whom hadn't said anything since he'd crashed into her.

"Sorry Yume," he said, turning to look at the smaller girl, hands moving to push himself off of her, before suddenly being arrested by a hand on his bicep.

"It's fine Ichika…" said Yume, looking dazed, her eyes focused on his bare upper body even as she held onto his arm.

Ichika gulped, the last thing he needed was Yume starting to space out on him now, especially if it was because he didn't have a shirt on.

"Yume…" said Ichika, worried about what might happen if he didn't manage to get her attention.

Suddenly there was a crack and the ice wall disappeared, leaving a scarily smiling landlady looking down at Ichika and Yume with a ladle in her hands.

"Orimura-san," said Miya, dark aura coming up behind her like before, "I'm sure you have a good explanation for this, I would hate to have to kick you out after only being here for one day."

Ichika gulped.


Several minutes later, after all involved parties had gone and put on clothes, much to Ichika's relief and he suspected to Yume's and the redheads mild displeasure, they were once more around the table. Ichika was seated directly across from his red haired attacker, with Yume and Akitsu seated beside him, prepared to defend him from…whatever it was that the strange girl wanted.

Miya was seated on his left at the table, while Musubi sat on the right, looking back and forth between Ichika and the red-head.

There was silence for a minute before Musubi broke it.

"What's a pervert?" she asked once more, this time when people weren't more concerned with dodging said pervert or cleaning up walls of ice.

"That's a pervert," replied Ichika instantly, pointing his finger at the only very slightly guilty looking woman.

"Matsu is not…" started the red-head, before a glance from Miya cut her off.

"Matsu is a pervert," said Miya primly, "And a peeper."

"Miya-tan…," whined Matsu.


"Ok!" said Musubi, nodding to herself as if she had just learned something very important, before turning to Matsu, "Nice to meet you Pervert-san."

The glasses girl just looked at Musubi and seemed to wilt even more.

Miya seemed to grow slightly pleased at her wilting, but then quickly turned to Ichika.

"So, Orimura-san," she started, still using the formal wording to indicate that she was less than pleased, "I would like to hear your side of the story before I decide what to do with you."

Ichika looked at Miya, then at the red-head.

"I was taking my bath, just like you suggested," he said to Miya, his words going dry and serious, "When she walked in on me," he pointed to Matsu, "Everything else that happened was a direct result of her doing that."

"You didn't need to throw me into a wall," said Matsu.

"Yes I did," replied Ichika, his mind flashing back to the incident that had caused him to put that in as part of his escape plans, "You had a grip on me and if I didn't you would've tried to grab me again when I pushed you off."

"You speak very knowledgeably about this Ichika," Miya said, slipping back into a less formal tone, seemingly to tease him, "How many girls have you had to do this to?"

"I've thrown ten girls into a wall or pool of water," Ichika replied immediately, "Five of those required further restraining by others," a glance at Matsu, "Six if you include her. A further twelve have entered the bath with me but didn't require more than words to convince them that they were wrong about what their actions would lead to."

"You didn't use words with me," pouted Matsu.

"I didn't get a chance to," replied Ichika, not responding to her pouting, "You immediately walked up, grabbed me and then began giggling like a perverted old man. Under those circumstances the best option is immediate neutralization and disengagement."

Beside him, Ichika could feel Yume growing…upset. Either at him or the girls he was talking about he wasn't sure, but he could tell she didn't like what they were talking about.

"You seem to say these things as if you have a plan of engagement for each one," replied Miya, her mouth quirking, "Are you sure you aren't just making an excuse so I don't kick you out?" she said teasingly.

Ichika shook his head, remaining dead serious, but pitching his voice so that all around could tell he wasn't exactly pleased with this discussion.

"I'm always serious about things like this Asama-san," he said, "You try being the only male around several hundred girls around your age, during a period in life when most people assume that you only have sex and hormones on your brain and then trying to explain to the school authorities for the fourth time that, no, I did not invite this girl into my bath and no I wasn't trying to force myself on her, she was trying to force herself on me. After that you quickly figure out that running out of the area yelling for help generally results in at least a little less skepticism than being found trying to wrestle her into submission so she'll stop trying to molest you."

As Ichika spoke, Miya went from teasing to looking mildly chastised herself, while Matsu went to nearly despondent as Ichika revealed his motivation behind his actions and how she had come across to him.

"I'm sorry Ichika," said Miya as he finished, "I seem to have touched upon a sensitive subject for you."

Ichika took a deep breath, forcing himself to unclench. He shook himself internally, and then managed a dry smile at Miya.

"It's alright you had know way of knowing," he replied, "I've just had to deal with the situation more than I like and it gets a little old dealing with people who are skeptical simply because of the genders."

Miya nodded at him, acknowledging his point.

"None of that was mentioned when Matsu looked at the school records," said the girl sadly, now actually looking guilty.

Ichika looked at her, sighing a little at the look on her face. "It wouldn't be. Most of them never got past a verbal warning from my sister. Only the serious incidents got put on record and most of those simply involved transfers, with no mention of what happened. IS Academy politics are serious business to most of the world, so each nation generally covered for their girl somehow. Missing family, better offer, things like that."

"Oh…" said the girl, apparently thinking the statement through, "That does make sense…"

Something in Ichika's mind finally clicked as the conversation began to slow.

"Wait, why were you looking at the school records?" he asked, eyes focusing on Matsu with a sharp intensity.

"Ah…" said Matsu, "Matsu thought it would be good to learn about her Ashikabi before she got her wings."

"Wait, what?" said Ichika suddenly surprised. Glancing to his sides he saw Yume's eyes widen in sudden understanding, while Akitsu simply looked back at him.

"You're my Ashikabi," repeated Matsu, her face turning red, apparently with desire as she wiggled in place, apparently barely restraining herself from jumping Ichika again, "So if it's ok I'd like to get my wings."

"But…" said Ichika, at least until Yume put her hand on his shoulder causing him to look at her.

"Remember what I told you Ichika?" she asked him, to which he shook his head no.

"A Sekirei's bond with their Ashikabi is that of love," she said, "So denying Matsu that would be very cruel of you and I know you wouldn't want to do that."

Ichika looked down at Yume, who was smiling at him, then to Akitsu, who simply nodded and finally to Musubi, who seemed to be bouncing happily. A final glance at Miya just got him a grin and a hand over her mouth. Turning back to Matsu he saw her wiggle some more, apparently trying to restrain herself after her actions in the bath and Ichika's story, but it was clearly a close running thing that she could lose any minute.

"Alright," he said, standing up and moving towards the cheongsam wearing girl.

"Yay, Ichika gets another Sekirei!" cheered Musubi as Ichika finally knelt down next to Matsu, who had managed to stop squirming and instead had closed her eyes to look almost demure as she pursed her lips to be kissed.

Feeling just a little awkward as his three other Sekirei and his landlady watched, Ichika leaned in and kissed her. It wasn't quite as intense as all of the other ones he had been involved in either, it felt…easier? Matsu didn't scream either, the others had definitely been screaming before they changed more to the throaty moan that came out of Matsu from the beginning, even as a pair of ephemeral gold wings came out of. Ichika didn't manage to see them as his eyes were closed, but to the rest of the room they contained a vague digital quality.

Ichika did break the kiss in time for him to see the flash as the wings turned to random beams of light coming off of the red-head, then to dodge as she tried to pull him back in for what looked to be another, much deeper kiss.

"Hey," he said, dodging back twice more before managing to escape back to the other side of the table, "What's all that about."

"Mou….," pouted Matsu, "Matsu wanted to start the experiments…"

"Experiments?" asked Ichika, mildly concerned about what she was saying.

"Matsu was…" started the woman, at least until a glance from Miya silenced her, "Never mind."

Ichika just shook his head, and then began looking around the room. Four girls. Earlier yesterday he had been an unattached guy with many suitors but no interest in any of them. Now he had four gorgeous women who all said that they loved him. It was a bit much for any man to swallow.

"Ichika…" came Yume's voice, clearly worried, "are you ok?"

"Yes," he said, turning to look at her, "I'm ok. It's just…a big switch is all. I've been running away from girls for a long time so this is…it's weird. It doesn't feel wrong…but it doesn't feel right yet."

"Ichika…" Yume started, her hand moving out to touch him but then stopping at least until Ichika took it himself.

"It's alright Yume, Akitsu," he said, taking the ice woman's hand as well when he saw her looking at Yume's, "It's just a lot to take in at the moment."

"But this is so great Ichika!" cheered Musubi, "You've got four Sekirei now! There's no way we'll get beaten!"

"What?" asked Ichika, turning his head towards Musubi.

"Huh?" said Musubi, confused as to what Ichika was asking.

"What do you mean we won't get beaten?" said Ichika, looking around at the rest of his girls. It was a few seconds before anybody responded.

"You mean they haven't explained the plan to you yet?" asked Matsu, looking between Yume, Akitsu and Musubi.

"No…" said Yume quietly, "I was waiting for Minaka," a frown crossed Miya's face at the name Ichika didn't know, "But he hasn't contacted Ichika at all. I thought it might be because we were all broken but now that he's winged you…"

"He should have contacted him somehow," Matsu finished for her, the pair seemingly concerned about something.

"Who are we talking about and why should he have contacted me?" asked Ichika, looking between the two of them.

"Minaka Hiroto, the founder and president of MBI," said Yume, "The one who found the Sekirei and created the Sekirei plan, the one who released us to find our Ashikabi's…but also the one who decided we would have to fight for our right to stay with them."

"Alright," said Ichika, "Someone please explain to me what this Sekirei plan is and why you need to fight people in it."

Matsu and Yume looked between each other and Yume nodded, apparently giving the floor to Matsu. Ichika wasn't so sure about having another Sekirei, but with the way things were going he needed every bit of help he could get.

"The Sekirei plan," started Matsu as she pushed up her glasses, "Is a "game" designed by Hiroto Minaka for purposes we're not entirely sure of yet. There are going to be several stages, but currently we're still in stage one, in which MBI is releasing Sekirei to be winged by their Ashikabi's."

"That doesn't sound so bad," said Ichika, "I assume there's something I'm missing."

"Yes," said Matsu with a nod, "All Sekirei and their Ashikabi's are encouraged to find and fight any other Sekirei that they can so that there is less competition for the later stages."

"They're encouraged to fight each other?" asked Ichika, looking between his four Sekirei, "What happened to being with your loved one forever and ever?"

"The end goal of the Sekirei plan is for only one Sekirei and Ashikabi to remain standing, they would be considered the winners and MBI is promising a great prize for the winner" said Matsu, "So if you fight and win…"

"You not only get a reward, you get to stay with your loved one forever and ever, right," said Ichika, looking around the table once more. "But there are four of you…"

"Most Ashikabi's only have one Sekirei," murmured Yume, "You are special Ichika, not just because you saved us…but because you saved so many."

"Yeah!" said Musubi happily, "Ichika is the best Ashikabi!"

There was a murmur of noise from Akitsu and a clink of the chains around as she agreed with the other two.

"They're right," said Matsu, "Not only do you have more Sekirei than nearly any Ashikabi, but you have three single numbers as well."

Ichika turned his full attention back to Matsu, "Single numbers? What are those?"

"Each of the 108 Sekirei has a number," said Matsu, "The first nine, the single numbers, are more powerful than the rest due to a number of circumstances. That means that every single number is important…and four of them have already been winged."

"Four?" asked Ichika, then his eyes opened a bit wider, "Wait, you said I have three of those? I know Yume is number eight and Musubi is eighty eight so that means both of you are single numbers?" He looked at both Matsu and Akitsu.

"Yes," said Matsu, "Matsu is number two."

Ichika turned to Akitsu, who remained quiet. "Akitsu?" he asked his quietest Sekirei, "What's your number?"

"I have no…" Akitsu started apparently on instinct and then stopped, her cheeks blushing as she looked back up at Ichika. "I am…number seven," she said proudly, her back straightening as another part of her remembered itself.

"Matsu isn't a fighting type Sekirei," said Matsu, "I'm an information type Sekirei."

"Is that how you got into the IS school records?" asked Ichika.

"Yes," said Matsu with a proud grin, "Matsu can get into any database in the world!"

"Unless they're offline or otherwise shielded like the ones that actually have my IS data in them, right?" said Ichika with a grin.

"Well…yes," said Matsu with a bit of a pout, "But most of them aren't like that."

"True," said Ichika with a grin, "But I know a few people that are pretty good with computers themselves, so I know the limitations of hacking." As Matsu continued to pout Ichika looked at Akitsu and Yume. "So if Matsu is an information type, I guess that would make you an ice type then Akitsu." Akitsu nodded, now nearly preening as Ichika paid attention to her. "What about you and Musubi, Yume?" he asked.

"Musubi is a fist type!" Musubi replied instantly, punching the air a few times with her still gloved hands.

"I see," said Ichika with a grin before turning to Yume.

"I'm a fist type too," said Yume, raising her hand and calling forth her powers, "But I'm also able to control plasma."

Ichika stared at Yume's hand for a few seconds before blinking, making sure he wasn't hallucinating. "You can control plasma?" he said, his voice slightly incredulous.

"Yes," said Yume, waving her hand and causing the plasma around her fist to disappear.

Matsu pouted a little bit more before continuing. "Anyway, along with having high level Sekirei, your own power as an Ashikabi should be increasing as well, meaning you might have even more Sekirei attracted to you."

"…I'll what?" asked Ichika after a several second delay.

"You might have even more Sekirei attracted to…" Matsu started and then stopped, remembering Ichika's earlier statement.

Ichika sighed, leaning forwards and putting is head in his hands.

"How many more?" he asked, his voice drained of almost all emotion.

"Currently there are over thirty Sekirei without Ashikabi's," said Matsu, who quickly began to shake her hands as Ichika gave her the look of a condemned man, "But I wouldn't think more than…" she gulped, "Maybe… two or three?"

"Great," said Ichika, who barely managed to look up from his hands, "That'd be what, seven?" He began to laugh in a dry tone that contained absolutely no humor. "So, a day of the week for each of you?"

"Ichika…," started Yume, only to be interrupted by Musubi.

"Ichika is the best Ashikabi!" she said in a manner unlike anything Ichika had ever seen before as she slammed her hands down onto the table, drawing everyone's attention, "He's smart and funny and he cares about his Sekirei so much he's already worried about the ones who aren't here yet! Even if he can't spend as much time with us as we'd like we'll all know that he wants to and is trying his best so we'll love him anyway!"

Several seconds passed as Musubi finished, she seemed mildly surprised at her own outburst.

"Well said Musubi-chan," said Miya, her mouth once more covered by her hand, "I'm sure Ichika will do his best, right Ichika?"

Ichika nodded to Miya, his mind spinning. The fact that Musubi, hell all of them, seemed to trust him so much after knowing each other for less than a day seemed unreal to him. Part of him simply couldn't process the idea. Another part of him said that if they believed so much in him he had to at the very least try no matter what might happen in the meantime. A final, very small part of him wondered if this wasn't what he'd been looking for his entire life.

"Right," he finally said, "I guess… no, I will give it my best shot if that's what you and whoever else might come along wants."

A round of nods from everyone except Miya encouraged him a little bit, enough to calm his nerves at least.

"Now with that over," said Miya as she clapped her hands, "Weren't the rest of you going to take a bath and then go shopping?"

"Right," said Ichika, glancing at Matsu, "You all should do that; we need to get you more clothes than what you're wearing."

"Yes Ichika," said Yume as she stood, her hand brushing against Ichika's shoulder, "Come on Musubi, cleanliness is important."

"Right!" said Musubi, nodding her head enthusiastically as she followed Yume.

Akitsu turned to look at Ichika, tilting her head slightly.

"You too Akitsu," he said, patting her leg, "I'll be here when you get back." Akitsu nodded, her pale cheeks dusting with red once more as she stood and followed after the other two.

Matsu got up on her own, turning towards the door as well. "Matsu will go back to her room and see if she can find out why Ichika hasn't been contacted yet."

"Ok," Ichika said as Matsu left the room, leaving him alone with Miya as the door slid shut.

There was silence for a minute, but something bugged Ichika.

"Miya?" he asked her.

"Yes Ichika?" she said as she tilted her own head towards him.

"You didn't seem surprised when they started talking about Ashikabi's and Sekirei's and all of that," he said, focusing on her face.

Miya simply smiled at him once more in that same unreadable way. "My husband worked for MBI as a high level researcher, he told me nearly everything about his work even though he wasn't supposed to." Her smile turned a bit less unreadable, more amused. "So I already know about the Sekirei plan, such that it is."

"Oh," said Ichika, "I suppose I should introduce myself at some point then."

"Unfortunately he passed away some time ago," said Miya, her mood immediately turning down slightly.

"My apologies," said Ichika formally, bowing forwards slightly, "I didn't mean to bring up bad memories."

Miya gave him a wan smile. "It is perfectly fine," she said to him, "You had no way of knowing."

"Thank you," he said, only to have his stomach gurgle loudly as his body reminded him that he hadn't eaten breakfast yet.

Miya's hand went up to her mouth once more as she giggled.

"I suppose I should finish breakfast then, I'm sure they'll be hungry as well once they're out of the bath," she said, moving to stand.

"Do you need any help?" asked Ichika, following her upwards, "I'm not sure how long they'll take and two hands make a better going of the work."

Miya paused, examining him with a "Hmm…"

Normally Ichika stood up to scrutiny just fine, but this felt like Chifuyu going over him when she was in ultra-serious mode.

"I suppose," she said almost flippantly, then turned serious once more, "But I'll have to punish you if you mess up the meal."

"I promise that I'll only be a help," said Ichika, giving her another small bow.

"Come on then," said Miya, the hints of a smile teasing around the corners of her lips, "I think the back flower beds need weeding, keep that in mind while you work…"

Ichika couldn't help but grin a little at the good natured ribbing as he followed Miya to the kitchen.


Roughly an hour and a half later, Ichika and three of his Sekirei had left Izumo House, Matsu having declined to go out because "People were looking for her." Freshly fed and bathed, they were in the middle of Tokyo's shopping district in search of appropriate clothing for sleeping and other assorted daily work. At least that was what Ichika was trying to do.

Akitsu was looking around at the city like she'd never seen it before. Ichika still wasn't sure of her exact circumstances but it was entirely possible that she hadn't actually seen the city before. Musubi was bouncing around, bouncing being a literal term in several senses for the excitable and busty girl, examining whatever little thing caught her attention at the moment. Yume was where she'd been for quite some time, by his side. She wasn't hanging off of him like she had been when they'd first met, but she was close by at all times and spent just as much time watching him as she did the area around them.

Ichika himself was trying to look for an appropriate store to go to, but between keeping an eye on Musubi and making sure that he and the other two didn't bump into too many people he wasn't having a whole lot of luck. He was getting ready to call for a break when he felt his phone vibrate. He'd only turned it on a little while before, having forgotten it in the mad scramble that had been his morning.

Sighing he reached down to pull it out of his pocket and look at the number. It wasn't Yukari thankfully, but it was somebody who could be even more demanding in her own way, Cecilia. Resigned to his fate Ichika put the phone up to his ear even as he pulled Akitsu and Yume off to the side of the street to a thankfully empty bench, Musubi following a few seconds later when she turned around to show them whatever the last thing to have caught her eye was.

"Cecilia?" he said into the mouthpiece, even as the three girls looked at him in a curious manner. It seemed likely Yume wanted to know who he was talking to, but he wasn't sure if Akitsu and Musubi were wondering about that or about his phone in the first place.

"Ichika," came Cecilia's voice in its full stuffy British Noblewoman tone, "What is this I hear about you not staying at the same hotel along with the rest of us? I thought you were the one who booked our room and you're usually so competent at these things."

Ichika felt like sighing, but refrained. Even after all these years Cecilia and some of the others still held a bit of a torch for him. He should've known that they would be planning something similar to Yukari, even if he wasn't exactly sure what it was.

"I did book the right number of rooms," he said to her, "The hotel simply double booked and they had to move me somewhere else. There was nothing I could do about it."

Cecilia felt no compunction about letting out a huff of her own, disapproval clear in the blast of air.

"So it wasn't your fault?" she asked him.

"No it wasn't my fault," he replied. As much as Ichika thought Cecilia could still loosen up a bit, he had to admit that several years with him and the other girls had already made a vast improvement.

"I suppose I can't be mad at you then," she said, the grudging tone in her voice hardly concealing her upset manner.

"I appreciate your restraint," Ichika said, "Did you need something else?"

"Yes!" Cecilia said sharply, "I need to know your schedule! Ms. Orimura said that you were making your own schedule for the next two weeks since you were so far away. I expect you to send me a copy of it as soon as you have it, understood?"

Glancing around him at the three small problems with that plan, Ichika let out a sigh.

"I… I've had some things come up Cecilia," he said to her, "I'm really not sure if I'm going to have a proper schedule set up."

"Ichika…." said Cecilia with a growl in her voice that indicated she was about to have another one of her tantrums.

"Look… Cecilia," he said with a sigh, "I'll send you my schedule when I have one ok? I'm just not sure when that will be."

Ichika could see Cecilia fighting with herself on the other end of the phone, wanting to yell but knowing it wouldn't help.

"Fine," she said with a final huff, "I'll wait until you have one ready but you will send it to me the moment it's done!"

"Alright Cecilia, I will," he said to her.

"Good," she said, her voice softening a little bit, "I don't want out trip to be wasted because of a mix up."

"Neither do I," he said, "Neither do I. Can you tell the others that I probably won't be around for a few days? I promise I'll get you my schedule when things settle down."

"Fine," she said, "I'll let them know. You better get me that schedule when you figure it out."

"I'll let you know as soon as it's figured out Cecilia," he said reassuringly.

"Alright. I'll see you when you come by Ichika. Goodbye," she said.

"Goodbye Cecilia, see you soon," he said, then hearing a click at the end of the line.

Ichika gave out a sigh, putting the phone down and looking up to what he thought he would see. Yume, Akitsu and Musubi both looking at him inquisitively. Musubi was just curious, Akitsu had assumed her flat face and Yume was definitely worrying about Cecilia.

He just sighed and started explaining.

"Cecilia is one of five girls who've been close friends of mine. The others are Houki, Charlotte, Laura and Rin. I expect at least one more of them to call me at some point. They're just my friends, none of them are any more than that. Yukari is another girl that might call me, she's a kouhai of mine and wanted to be my girlfriend for a while. None of them have ever been my girlfriend despite trying, it just never felt right."

He looked up at all three of them, watching the look on their faces. Musubi, bless her heart, simply nodded along in agreement. Akitsu's head had tilted to the side, processing what she heard. Yume however, looked concerned.

"You… you never had a girlfriend?" she asked him.

"No, it never felt right. I imagine now it was because I knew you were out there somewhere. Not sure how but… I don't have anyway to explain it."

"So you never…" started Yume.

"No I never did anything with them. A few of them tried but like I said earlier, I stopped them."

Yume's look of concern changed to one of relief, then of sadness.

"I… I'm sorry for doubting you Ichika," she said with a sniff, "I'm..."

"It's alright Yume," he said, placing a hand on her shoulder. "Don't beat yourself up over it. I… our situation isn't the most normal thing in the world."

"Yeah… I suppose that's true," she said, putting a smile on her face.

"Good," he said, "Now lets get back to shopping."

"Ok," she said, Musubi and Akitsu nodding along.

It was then that his phone began to ring again, a nearby bell chiming out 10 AM.