"Is it only when you are in love with another person that you see them as they really are? And in the ordinary way, when you are not in love with people, you see only a fragmented version of that being? Because when you are in love with someone, you do indeed see them as a divine being. And suppose that's what they are, truly. Your eyes have, by your beloved, been opened."
- Alan Watts
"Guess what, class! We're about to meet yet another new transfer student!" A voice cheerfully said from behind a door.
Charlotte Dunois took a deep breath from outside Class One's classroom. She had to admit, she filled out the uniform well. Her chest was firmly bound with wrappings she had to admit were a bit too tight, but otherwise made her chest flat. Combined with her lack of make up and her hair tied into a low-set ponytail, she made a convincing boy, if an extremely pretty one. It wasn't just appearance, either. She'd spent months learning how to move, act, and talk like a real boy. She spoke fluent Japanese like nearly all students at this school, despite her thick French accent. She had even been taught how to use the Japanese pronoun 'boku' to refer to herself, a pronoun only boys used, to complete the illusion. Despite being a girl in every single way, now that she had entered IS Academy, Charlotte Dunois was now Charles Dunois... A boy.
Despite her crossdressing, she wasn't as confident as you'd think. Naturally shy and gentle, Charles was beside herself right now, doing anything she could to calm her nerves. Her hands, since she had no skirt to fidget with, were instead fidgeting with her uniform jacket. She was about to enter a room full of experienced female IS pilots, one of which was male. Though she had easily fooled the staff into thinking she was a boy (she hoped), the girl was afraid that, around people her own age, the illusion could easily be shattered. With yet another deep breath, and all the zen meditation she could muster, Charlotte- no... Charles Dunois stepped into Class One to the murmurs of numerous girls in all manner of different accents.
As soon as she was within sight, many of the girls gasped. Charles wasn't sure why at first... but then realized, of course. They thought she was a boy. Boys were a rare sight in IS Academy, after all. She went to stand at the front of the class, beside the green-haired, bra-baring teacher's desk. Her violet eyes glanced at the one boy in this school who, after what seemed like a delayed reaction, gasped himself. His gasp obviously sounded more masculine than the girls surrounded him, his own dark reddish eyes widening.
Resisting the urge to clasp her hands at her waist, Charles instead kept them at her side. Despite the pleasant smile on her face, she was sweating bullets internally. Breathing inward, she spoke, hoping to make a good introduction.
"I am Charles Dunois, and I have come from France," she introduced herself. Her voice, due to acting training, was masculine enough, if very androgynous. Despite the training, her French accent showed through even when speaking fluent Japanese. She was comforted with the fact that this was a common occurrence in IS Academy. Errr, having an accent, that is. She even could've sworn she'd heard a girl speaking in an American Southern accent at some point, another girl possibly even an Australian. Rearranging her hands behind her back, she tried to increase the charm of her smile by closing her eyes. "It is... nice to meet you!"
"Dude... you're a boy?" Came a girl's voice from the class in what seemed like a surfer's accent.
"Oui!" Charles confirmed, calmly like she'd been taught. Her first instinct was of course to object to that question, but she'd been conditioned over months to not even hesitate when it came to such things. "I heard about a male student who was in the same situation I am, so I transferred here."
Immediately, the girls of the class went wild. Charles' mouth naturally fell open, a very French "Hohn?" emerging from her mouth at the odd reaction. Her training had taught her how to act like a boy... but not how to deal with girls her age like a boy. Only now did she realize... that was going to be a problem.
"It's a second male student!" A girl with short brown hair squealed.
"And he's in our class!" A girl with slightly longer, darker brown hair and glasses concurred.
"He's cute and he's the type girls want to protect!" A girl with dark blue hair the length of the first of the trio gushed.
Charles couldn't help wanting to fidget uncomfortably at that. She settled for just shuffling her feet uncomfortably to placate the urge. She was, luckily, saved from the girls' delighted uproars by... um... Orimura... sensei? Sensei... She'd have to get used to using that word. She admitted, Japanese honorifics were a lot more confusing than French ones to her. It seemed that due to its multicultural nature and Japanese language basis, honorifics were treated with a more relaxed nature in IS Academy than the rest of Japan. Charles was grateful for that, but it might be a problem if she ever wanted to leave and explore the town. The Japanese were pretty big on politeness, or so she'd heard.
"Silence, dammit! That's quite enough!" The tall, dark-haired Japanese instructor commanded the classroom. The girlish chittering grinded to an immediate halt. Orimura-sensei placed one hand on her hip, continuing. "Today we're conducting joint practical training with Class Two. I want everyone changed and assembled on the second grounds ASAP. And Orimura?"
"Y-Yes?" The only boy in the classroom (unbeknownst to everyone but Charles, at least) responded nervously. So, this was him, huh?
"Since you're both males, I want you to keep an eye on Dunois." The teacher instructed.
Seeing that as her cue, Charles stepped up to Ichika Orimura... errr... Orimura Ichika's desk. Charles had to remember, Japan swapped given and surnames compared to most other countries, her own France included.
"Let's get moving, girls!" Orimura-sensei announced.
"So you're Orimura..." Charles said to the very boy she'd been sent to IS Academy to spy on. She kept a pleasant smile on her face, hoping it wasn't as transparent as she feared. She was seriously freaking out underneath it. "Nice to meet you! I am-"
The boy stood up from his desk, looking away awkwardly. "Uuuhhmm... No... No time for that. Getting there is our top priority. The girls'll start changing soon." To Charles' utter shock, Orimura Ichika grabbed her hand. The crossdressing girl let a very nervous gasp emerge from her mouth as a light blush scattered across her cheeks. "So, uh... Let's get our motor on!"
As Orimura Ichika led her out of the classroom ahead of the girls, Charles had to remind herself... This wasn't romantic. This wasn't intimate. This wasn't affectionate. To Ichika, she was a boy. He was just being friendly. Chummy. Bros. Bromantic. Yes, that was it. Curses! In addition to not teaching her how to respond to girls like a boy... They also never taught her how to respond to boys like a boy!
"We're going to be changing in the locker room at the arena." Ichika explained, still holding Charles' hand as he led her down the halls. This was so embarrassing... "We have to change there whenever we have practical training, so you better get used to beating the girls," he continued.
"O-Oh... Right..." For a moment she took solace in the fact that the one person she wanted above all else to not know she was a girl wasn't seeing through her disguise. The feeling did not last long.
Ichika glanced behind himself, looking her up-and-dwn. "Hey, why do you look so anxious? Do you need to use the restroom?"
Charles' blush deepened, a small grimace gracing her feminine- er, no, boyish features. "N-No, that's not it..." She stammered.
A gasp emerged from her lips as a girl with long, straight brown hair in a hime cut emerged from the side hallway.
"Hey!" She cried, pointing at what were apparently the only two boys in the entire school. "I see the new transfer student!"
Another girl emerged from the side hallway as well, pointing in the same way. "And he's standing with Orimura!"
A "Mon Dieu..." escaped Charles' lips as they were surrounded by a gaggle of girls from all sides in an instant.
"There he is!" One in the crowd cried.
"Move it! Outta my way!" another cried in a Texan accent.
"Whoa! Whoa!" Ichika stammered as the girls charged them, surrounding them at an even closer distance.
"They're holding hands!" Charles heard a girl from the crowd cry, making her light blush return.
"I do like Orimura's dark hair, but I like the blonde, too..." A girl mused in an American valley girl accent. Charles was hearing so many accents today...
"Run for it!" Ichika cried. Gripping Charles' hand a little more firmly, he took off down the nearest side hallway, pushing through the crowd of boy-starved teenage girls.
"They're leaving!" "Hey, wait!" "Let's follow them!" The mob of girls all tittered.
A girl with purplish hair and glasses emerged from a hallway to join the crowd of gawking girls, holding a camera. "Hey, wait! At least let me take a picture for the paper!"
"What are they making such a racket for?" Charles asked as she tried to keep up with Ichika's running pace, glancing back at the crowd of girls.
"Well, I'm pretty sure it has something to do with the fact that you and I are the only males who've been able to operate an IS so far!" Ichika explained.
"Oh, yes! Th... That's right, yeah!" Of course... Another thing her crossdressing training hadn't taught her. In a school full of girls where she'd be one of only two boys, she really should've guessed... Actually, no. Charles had no idea girls could be like this in an environment deprived of boys. It actually kind of boggled her mind. Girls, uh... didn't rape boys... did they?
"Just keep running, okay?" The boy urged the crossdresser.
The French crossdresser swallowed hard.
After a long run through the school, they managed to reach what Charles assumed was the locker room, both thoroughly out of breath.
"I think we managed to lose them somehow..." Ichika said between pants.
"I'm sorry! I've already gotten you into trouble!" Charles gasped as she stood bent forward, her hands on her knees.
"No problem! I mean, you're my savior. It's tough to be the only guy in the entire school," Ichika dismissed..
Charles felt her heart skip a beat at that... Savior? She looked up at where Ichika stood in front of her. "No... Really?" She asked in disbelief.
Ichika turned to look at her, a big, goofy grin on his face. "Yeah, so I owe you one!" She felt a light pink blush come to her cheeks at that. "My name's Orimura Ichika, but just call me Ichika!"
Remembering her training, Charles collected herself, standing and giving the boy a pleasant smile. "Mm! It's nice to meet you, Ichika! You may call me Charles, if you like."
"Sha... Shazu?" Ichika stammered, tripping over his own tonge.
Oh. Of course. Language barriers. "Um... S-Something like that?"
The Japanese young man continued with considerable effort. "Sharsu... Sharls... Charles!"
She clapped her hands once, delighted. "Very good, Ichika! I am impressed!"
The boy chuckled uneasily, rubbing the back of his head. "Well... I knew there'd be a lot of foreign names in this school, so I tried my best to practice foreign pronunciation. Not sure why... yours gave me more trouble than Cecilia's, though, considering Japanese doesn't have a si sound, so we pronounce it shi, and-" He glanced up at the clock, which read 8:43.
"Oh, man! Look at the time!" He hastily opened his locker, pulling off his uniform jacket and then his button shirt. Charles could only stare, dumbfounded, her jaw hanging open and the slightest of blushes on her cheeks. He was... very muscular for a Japanese boy.
"We've got a long run, so hurry up and get changed!" Ichika concluded, slipping off his pants revealing... revealing... That seemed to snap the crossdressing girl out of it.
With a masculine cry of distress (thank you, boy lessons!), Charles' entire face turned red, bringing her hands up to to cover her face. Sh... Sh... Shirtless boy! Her... Her first shirtless boy! And pantsless! No pants! Bare boy ass! And... And... what a glorious ass, it was! Charles had to admit, as inexperienced with boys as she was... she did have a thing for the male derrière. She spread her fingers just a bit to take another peek, and, and... Blood burst from her nose.
Ichika glanced over his shoulder. "Whoa! Charles, you're bleeding!"
"N-No, i-it's nothing!" She urged him, pinching the bridge of her nose.
Then... Ichika did the worst possible thing he could ever do. He turned around... while still naked. Charles, in the curiosity naturally found in a teenage girl, glanced downward. M... Mon dieu!
"Oh, merde! C'est quoi ce bordel? C-C-Couilles!!!" Charles spun around, her hands grasping her face with her eyes widened in shock. Mon dieu... She'd never used so many curse words at once before in her life!
She gave Ichika's shirtless, Adonis-like visage a sideways glance as he gazed at her in a concerned, if confused, manner, making sure to use all her willpower to keep her eyes above his waist.
"Wow, no idea what those words mean..." And she was thankful for that! "Was that French? But anyway, c'mon, you'll be late if you don't get changed, fast," he advised her, completely oblivious to the effect he was having on her. That... his body was having on her.
Oh, god... Why did the one boy she was sent here to spy on have to have a body... like that? It was like cruel fate, or an ironic punishment! And with a heavy swallow, it only now dawned on her that... this boy was her roommate!
She glanced back at Ichika's face, and only his face, who grimaced as he continued. "And our teacher happens to be very insistent on punctuality."
"Mmmmmmmm... I'm going to change now," she groaned, though her voice was muffled by her own hands on her face. “But would you mind looking the other way, s'il vous plait?"
That request gave Ichika pause, like he was working through it in his head. Charles was sure it was a very unusual request, a boy asking another boy not to look at him while he was changing... Finally, her objective for this mission answered. "I... wasn't going to stare at you while you were changing, but whatever."
Oh, but she was! As Ichika turned around, Charles cast one more glance at that sweet, round, bubble-like posterior, marveling at how it was perfectly peach-shaped yet so perky. It was true. Men really did have better asses than women. Sighing, Charles began slipping her own jacket and shirt off, then her pants. "Just hurry it up, okay?"
Charles’ back stiffened at the boy's words. Looking over her shoulder, indeed, he had turned to look at her. No, no, no... it was all over! She was dressed only in under... wear? To her surprise, Ichika turned back toward his locker as soon as he had finished speaking, not even giving her a second glance. But... But... how? Ah, of course. Charles had gone all out for her assignment, and that included wearing a distinctly masculine pair of male boxers. Admittedly, her figure was still feminine, with soft curves, but with her breasts firmly and tightly bound with wrappings and her back to Ichika...
Well, it was reasonable that, since even she admitted that she was very feminine-looking even when crossdressing, and her voice was convincingly androgynous due to voice acting training, Ichika had simply not given her shapely hips, thin waist, round ass, or womanly legs a second thought. But, still... She had to wonder... was this boy... kind of dense?
Swallowing her embarrassment, Charles pulled on the boys' gym uniform as fast as she could, grimacing at the way it bared her soft, flat, feminine midriff. "Whew! Okay, Ichika, you can look now, mon ami."
Ichika turned his head to give her a glance over his shoulder, his shirt on, but to Charles' embarrassment, still completely without pants of any kind. She tried very, very hard to keep her eyes on his face. Forget iron will, she was using divine will! Though, now that she had spent long enough looking at his face to study his expression... "Uhhh... uhhhh... I-Is something wrong?"
"It's just that you put that on so easily... Do you have some secret trick to that or something?" He asked, studying her with a curious expression.
"Oh, no, not really!" She dismissed nervously, a slight blush on her cheeks as she flicked the blonde locks of hair at either side of her face back. She finished with a nervous chuckle of "Heh, I don't! Heh heh!"
Ichika shrugged, reaching for his gym pants in his locker. "Oh, well, that's a shame, because these things are a pain to put on." He gave a small sigh. "Since you can't put on any underwear beneath them, my things are always getting caught."
A deep blush spread across Charles' face. "Your... things get caught?"
"And how!" He confirmed humorously.
Charles' blush spread across her face, her violet eyes shrinking in absolute mortification at the image that entered her head. "Uhhhh..."
She didn't have to imagine it for long. To her horror, Ichika turned around once more, again giving her a full frontal, but it was worse this time. She was treated to the sight of him actually slipping his skin-tight pants on, including the evident hassle of stuffing his, his... very, very impressive package... into the tight confines of the trousers. Once all his bits were tucked inside, he spent quite some time adjusting himself so his bulge didn't show as bad, and also making sure his equipment was in a comfortable position. Evidently... Ichika 'tucked' straight up.
It was likely a defense mechanism to the frequent erections he was getting simply from being the only boy in a school full of boy-starved girls eager to get in his tight, tight pants... Charles thought she might faint, but Ichika's voice broke her out of her daze.
"Uhh... Your suit looks really easy to put on." Ichika pointed out. Charles noted with discomfort that he was staring at her groin, perfectly flat despite how skin-tight her suit was, especially compared to the package Ichika was showing in a uniform clearly not designed by men.
"Errrmmm... I guess I am just not as, errr... well-endowed as you! Plus, it's an original model made by Dunois!" She dismissed, hoping to deflect any suspicion as to her true gender.
"Dunois? Your surname is Dunois too, right?" Ichika asked, sitting down to begin changing his shoes.
"Mm! My Papa is the company's CEO." Charles began to explain, her pleasant smile returning. She was significantly more comfortable now that Ichika was fully dressed and the discussion was off the subject of both their bodies. Though, she had to admit... She had to fight to keep her violet orbs off his bare, muscled abs and the distinct bulge in his pants. "As you know, Dunois is the largest IS-related corporation in all of France."
"Aaaahhh, so you're the CEO's son." Ichika said in realization. Son? Oh, right! Duh! "Now it makes sense."
"Hmmm? Just what does that mean?" She asked, curious.
"Well, I don't know what it is, but you've got class. You look like you've come from a prestigious family. So... now I get it!" Ichika explaiend, smiling proudly as if he had figured out a mystery.
Charles lowered her gaze, grimacing slightly. Prestige... Class... She had to admit, maybe she was wrong about Ichika being a bit dense if he noticed that about her. Itt was still a very, very inaccurate observation, though. She looked up, embarrassed to find the boy had noticed her troubled expression. Thankfully, he dropped it, further cementing Charles' growing idea that... maybe Orimura Ichika wasn't as dense as she thought.
Out on the field, Charles lined up with Ichika and the girls of the combined Class One and Class Two. She felt a little out of place, wearing a different-colored uniform from the others. Oh, and disguised as a boy when she was really a girl. She kind of wished she could be standing next to Ichika. She told herself it was because she was sent here to spy on him, but... She had to admit, she found his presence... comforting. He was tall, muscled, well-endowed, had definite presence, yet from what little interaction she had with him, she could tell he was also kind, gentle, and chivalrous. Like a boy who could protect her, or at least give her guidance and comfort, but still be affectionate and tender when she needed it.
It was only then she realized that Orimura-sensei was addressing the two classes. "Your practical training begins now."
"Right!" The group of students, save for Charles, confirmed in unison.
"First, we'll need to demonstrate a real battle," Orimura-sensei continued, her hands on her hips. "Huang, Alcott!" She called into the crowd.
"Ma'am!" "Ma'am!" Charles noted both girls answered in the order their names were called. Like Charles, they were also dressed in different-colored uniforms than the others. One looked Asian, probably Chinese, the other Caucasian, possibly European... British, perhaps?
"You have your own machines, I'm sure you'll gladly volunteer. Step forward, girls," Orimura-sensei explained.
"What a nuisance... Why is it always me?" Charles thought she heard the Chinese girl, Huang, mutter under her breath. Hm... She thought the girl might've been Chinese, but... she certainly spoke Japanese fluently, without any hint of an accent.
"Oh my, such a vulgar spectacle, do I really have to do this?" Alcott spoke, in a voice clearly meant to be heard. Unlike Huang, Alcott wasn't murmuring to herself; she was outright complaining. Her accent confirmed Charles' theory that she was British. English of among the highest social class, now that the French crossdresser was hearing it. If Ichika thought Charles herself sounded or acted cultured, she had to wonder what the boy thought of the busty blonde Brit.
When the two girls stepped up to Orimura-sensei, the Japanese female instructor seemed to say something to them in a hushed tone. Charles didn't hear what she said, but whatever it was, it sent a shocked realization through the two girls, who stood tall with utmost confidence and struck poses that actually made Charles a little intimidated.
"It looks like it's time for Cecilia Alcott, England's representative contender, to step up and take charge!" The blonde Brit announced, flicking her dangling blue earring.
"Yeah! And I can show the difference between those who have personal machines and those who don't!" The much more petite, Chinese girl concurred.
Charles, while everyone was still gazing up at the two girls, broke formation to walk up behind Ichika. She spoke to to him in a hushed tone. "What did the teacher just say to those girls?"
"How on Earth would I know that?" The boy sighed.
"So who's my rival?" Cecilia asked, her hands on her hips and looking quite proud. "I wouldn't mind tossing you away, restaurant girl."
Huang, standing beside her with her arms crossed under her chest, cast Cecilia a smug sideways glance. "Eh heh heh... That's my line," she replied confidently. "You're dead meat."
"Oh, don't get ahead of yourselves." Orimura-sensei interjected. "You haven't met your opponent."
The sound of something falling caught Charles', and apparently the rest of the class's, attention. It was soon followed by the ongoing scream of a female adult. Charles looked up to see a woman in an IS unit tumbling through the air to the ground, screaming for anyone below to get out of the way. The girls in the crowd scattered, but Charles looked to see Ichika standing directly under the IS's trajectory. Acting fast on her own protective instincts, Charles dashed forward at her top physical speed, diving in and tackling the boy. Her charge sent them both flying out of the way and tumbling to the ground just out of the IS's point of impact, creating a massive cloud of dirt and dust as it landed. When the dust cleared, Charles looked down to see Ichika below her, groaning and opening his dark reddish eyes to gaze into her violet orbs. She... She could actually get lost in them...
"Charles?" he asked. "What happened?"
Shaking any perverted thoughts from her head, the French crossdresser stammered out a reply. "Um, uh... I-I'm sorry, Ichika! I... I acted without thinking! P-Please forgive me!"
The boy chuckled. "Forgive you? Why? I think you just saved my life."
The sound of girls squealing snapped Charles, and apparently Ichika, out of their moment. She looked around to see many of the girls gazing at the two of them with blushing faces, outright excitement, and some even had nosebleeds. Several were shouting, or even chanting, some word she didn't recognize... Yao... Yaoi? It was only when one of the English-speaking girls shouted the words "boys' love" that the realization hit Charles. They thought... Uh oh! "Ah! I... I'm so sorry, Ichika, I-"
The boy pulled himself, and Charles, to their feet, not seeming at all bothered by the girls getting off on what they thought was a boy-on-boy skinship. "It's okay, Charles. Like I said, I think you saved my life. I didn't have my IS deployed. That impact might've killed me. You saved me once simply by being the only other boy at this academy with me. Now you saved me again, only more literally."
Charles wasn't sure why, but her entire face felt like it was on fire right now. Her blushing face seemed to only encourage more fangirlish reactions from the female student body, while the French crossdresser could swear she heard one lament something along the lines of "Of course the only two boys in school are gay... Do you think they'll let me watch?"
Pulling herself out of Ichika's arms and clutching her arms to her chest protectively, Charles glanced at the crater where the dust was settling, seeing it was, um... um... Actually, Charles forgot her name. Something Japanese. She was that green-haired, bespectacled teacher that, though she was currently dressed properly in an IS, normally constantly bared her bra. Hmmm... Charles would just privately call her Brassière-sensei in her head until she could memorize the teacher's name.
"Yamada-sensei used to be a representative contender and she's an ace of a shot with her IS's rifle." Orimura-sensei explained.
Yamada-sensei? Charles would try to remember that... But if you asked her, Brassière-sensei was catchier and kind of amusing to the French crossdresser.
"Thanks, but that was a long time ago and I could never break free from being just a contender," Brassière-sensei modestly dismissed, rubbing the back of her head with the hand not holding her rifle.
"But you're still more than a match for these two." Orimura-sensei insisted. "Together."
"What? You can't mean it's going to be two against one," Cecilia asked in disbelief.
"I don't think that's a very good idea," Huang agreed.
"Oh, don't worry," Orimura-sensei began with a knowing, but subtle, smirk. "I'm sure your embarrassment won't last very long."
That seemed to give the two girls determined expressions. Charles was beginning to notice something here... A lot of the girls at this school, particularly the top students and the ones in Ichika's life, were rather hot-blooded, high-strung, and had quick tempers. It seemed Orimura-sensei, despite being one of these very such girls, was at least smart enough to play into the very nature of those girls. It kind of made Charles glad she wasn't really an angry or violent person. Hopefully that meant Orimura-sensei wouldn't be able to goad her like that.
As the three girls got into position, Orimura-sensei raised her hand. "Let the carnage..." She brought it down in a chopping motion. "Begin!"
The two students took off into the air, followed soon after by Brassière-sensei. Charles craned her head up to watch them and only realized when she felt a squeeze that Ichika was doing the same, and... holding her hand? What?! Okay, okay, calm down, Charles. He was clearly focused on what the French crossdresser had no doubt was going to be a completely one-sided, curb-stomp battle, so he didn't notice what he was doing.
But she did. And it was driving her mad. It was only her first day and if she was going to be sticking to this boy like glue from now on, a boy who had no idea the effect he had on her, she was seriously worried for her mental health! She'd seen Room 1025 that she'd be sharing with the boy already, so... would Ichika not bother her if she shlicked in the shower?
The two students and one teacher seemed to be giving each other a pre-match psych-out but with them so high up, Charles couldn't hear it. Not that she'd be able to pay attention anyway. Ichika's hand... So strong, so firm, yet... so gentle. She could feel a teenager’s lifetime worth of years of hard work ingrained in the subtle calluses of his hand, yet they didn't distract from the masculine gentleness his grip had. The way he gripped her... It was like he was afraid he would break her, even though he, like everyone else in this school, was completely convinced she was a boy. It made her heart beat fast and a blush come to her cheeks. Was it... Was it possible she was... she was...?
"Dunois!" Orimura-sensei's commanding voice snapped Charles out of her trance, bringing the dainty hand not holding Ichika's up to her chest in surprise. "I want you to tell us about the IS Yamada-sensei is using."
"But of course," Charles agreed, though uneasy at being put on the spot like this. "Bra- I mean, Yamada-sensei's IS is a Raphael Revive from the Dunois Corporation. It was created at the end of the second generation development. However, its specs are not inferior to the early third generation models. This is the latest mass-produced IS model that is currently in use. Right now, its market share ranks third worldwide. Furthermore, this model can be modified for physical combat, long range sniper and artillery, and even defense."
Right at the end of Charles' monologue, Brassière-sensei had managed to make both Cecilia and Huang crash into each other and easily took them out with a missile from a rocket launcher she summoned from her IS. The missile hit them both for a huge explosion high above the school grounds, accompanied by two girlish screams as both girls came plummeting down from the sky. The two landed in the middle of the field with a plume of dirt and dust.
"Uuuhg! I can't believe this is happening to me!" Cecilia cried in distress as she lied in the newly-made, though shallow and small, crater.
"Couldn't you tell she knew exactly which way you would go to try and escape from her?" Huang seethed at the blonde Brit lying next to her in the same crater.
"What about you? You were taking unnecessary shots like a bloody idiot!" Cecilia quipped back.
As the two girls growled at each other, Brassière-sensei landed in front of them with an airheaded smile on her face. Orimura-sensei came to stand between the two parties, her arms crossed over her breasts in lecture mode.
"I hope you all now understand what your instructor is capable of and knowing that, show her the proper respect.” Brassière-sensei giggled innocently at that. “For the first phase of practical training, you'll form teams. Those who have personal machines will be the group leaders. So get forming already!"
In an instant, a whole gaggle of girls had gathered around Ichika. To Charles' distress, a slightly smaller group of girls had gathered around her as well. Now that Ichika had thoroughly showed to her exactly what it meant to be a boy in this school, the French crossdresser was beginning to understand the difference between their fangirls. It seemed the girls more interested in a manly protector were gravitating naturally toward the tall, muscled (and well-endowed, as Charles could attest to) Ichika. The girls more interested in a prettyboy they could protect and nurture were quickly forming Charles' own fan club. She couldn't help cringing at the thought. She could be given all the 'how to be a boy' lessons in the world but none could change her sexuality. She had to admit, these girls were cute and some even had bodies she couldn't help but admire, but despite the common French stereotype, Charles was adamantly as straight as an arrow. She really didn't see that changing anytime soon, either, not even for simple bi-curious experimentation purposes in this almost all-girl environment. Despite the other French stereotype, she really wasn't all that... loose, either. Nor was she all that open about her body, even among other girls who knew she was a girl. Sigh... She was culturally savvy enough to know that a lot of these girls might be hoping to get her alone in their room and hope she would get naked for them, completely innocent of the cultural differences. Not gonna happen, sisters. Sorry, girls.
Numerous voices hit Charles all at once. "I wanna learn your control techniques, Dunois-kun!" "Oh, hey, can I join you, too?" "Say something in the language of love, Dunois!" "Dunois, can you teach me how to French kiss?" "I know some French! Omelette du fromage! See?" "What does cherchez la femme mean?" "Can I feel your flat stomach, Dunois? Please?" "How do you get your hair to grow so long? I'm so jealous!" "Are you a natural blonde?" "Do you actually eat snails and frog legs, Dunois?" "Do you wanna come see my room later? I don't mind if you strip down and get comfortable!"
Cringing and blushing, as well as trying to forgive how culturally insensitive these girls were being, Charles noted with intense discomfort that it was already starting. At least Ichika had the benefit of being completely oblivious to most of the girls' advances. Being a girl herself, each of their not-so-subtle attempts to hit on her only bothered her all that much more. Really, the only French stereotype Charles didn't mind and she actually admitted was true about her was that she had quite a preference for the human posterior. Not that she flaunted that fetish! Moreso, unfortunately for these girls, she preferred the male human posterior. Heterosexuality helped but even she, as a girl, admitted her own rear end didn’t compare to half the men she had had the pleasure of leering at the bums of.
"Um... Please, mesdames and... err... mesdames, no need to crowd. You are... making me a little uncomfortable... P-Please, line up and I'll-" In a flash, the girls were lined up in a semi-circle, each offering their hand to the French crossdresser.
"Please, pick me, Dunois-sama!" They all said in unison.
Gulping in discomfort, Charles glanced over her shoulder to see Ichika handling his similar situation surprisingly well, despite having more girls to deal with. But then again, being oblivious probably helped him keep his cool. Ignorance is bliss, as they often said. Ichika noticed her staring at him, and smiling in a friendly manner, said just at a volume she could catch it, "Welcome to the man meat grinder, Charles."
The French crossderesser couldn't help chuckling.
Practice eventually concluded and everyone was sent back to change. With a sigh, Charles stood changing in the arena locker room, thoroughly disturbed with her day so far.
She'd seen Ichika naked... She'd never seen a boy naked before! She admitted, she very much enjoyed the sight of his rear end. Having an ass like that should be a crime and she knew she'd be dreaming about it tonight. Heck, she'd be thinking about it should she get the chance to shlick in the shower without her roommate interrupting.
"Charles!" With a boyishly feminine shriek, Charles spun around, wishing she hadn't.
Speak of the devil! There stood Orimura Ichika! Completely naked, save for a towel slung over his shoulders. P... P... Pénis! Phallus! Sexe! Verge! Mentule! Vit! Guillery! Oh, mon Dieu!
"Hey, Charles, some of the others and I were going to eat lunch together on the roof, you want to come along?" Ichika offered.
With struggle yet relief, the French crossdresser snapped her head back up to Ichika's face. She kept her back turned to him, knowing that the boy viewing her round, shapely posterior was far preferable to him seeing her binded chest. Especially since right now, she was clad only in male boxers and her bindings. "Hohn? You... want me to join you for lunch? With... friends? But, errrm... We... only just met this morning, Ichika."
"So? We're roommates. Besides, us guys should stick together!" Charles blushed. She couldn't help but be touched by that statement... Girls were known for a rather cutthroat attitude towards each other, but... Did all boys treat other boys with this sense of... camaraderie?
Smiling pleasantly and a genuine one for once, Charles answered with "I would like nothing better, Ichika. Merci beaucoup."
"What's going on here?" An angry voice growled.
Charles noted the three girls on the roof with her and Ichika. Two were the British and Chinese girl who went up against Brassière-sensei. The other was a Japanese girl who probably had the third largest breasts in school under the aforementioned bra-baring sensei and that Scottish ginger. The French crossdresser noted she was among Ichika's fangirls at the combat training lesson, though didn't look thrilled about it. Even now, she looked downright irritated at the very least. This seemed to be yet another girl close to Ichika with a hair-trigger temper. That made four. Huang, Cecilia, Orimura-sensei, and now this Japanese girl. Was Charles the only one in Ichika's life not prone to screaming at him or lashing out in violence with little to no provocation? At the very least, as the five of them sat in a semi-circle, Ichika sat on the end with Charles the only one next to him. That made her think that, should one of these three girls abruptly lash out in anger, she could defend him.
"Well, the more the merrier, don't they say?" Ichika pointed out, a little nervously. "Plus, Charles only just transferred to this school, so he doesn't really know his way around without me."
The French crossdresser felt a blush come to her cheeks.
"Hmm... Maybe so, but..." The Japanese girl murmered.
Just like that, Charles caught it. A spark of electricity as the three girls glared at each other. Oh, yes. Ichika may not have been able to see it, the lovably dense blockhead he was, but she could see it plain as day. All three of these girls were very much vying for his attention, seeing each other purely as rivals. It was a social competition to them, but... Did either of them think of Ichika as anything more than a prize? Did they care about his feelings at all? In fact, Charles had no doubt in her mind that if they knew she was a girl right now, they'd be seeing her as an obstacle to be removed in their quest for the 'ultimate prize' that was Orimura Ichika. A realization dawned on her that despite what she had previously thought, maybe Ichika really wasn't the last person in this school she wanted to know her true gender. Lord knew what these girls were capable of against her. As the sparks between the three settled, they reached behind themselves and pulled out the lunches they had brought.
"Ummm... Ichika?" Charles asked the boy next to her. "Do you think it was really okay for me to join you here?" She certainly didn't want to get caught in the crossfire of this war! Defending him from temperamental outlashings of violence was one thing. Romantic competitions were something else entirely! Despite being French, she was anything but experienced or knowledgeable about love!
"Of course it was! We boys should stick together, especially since we'll be roommates from now on!" Ichika insisted, a big, oblivious grin on his face.
The French crossdresser again felt her heart constrict in her chest. How could a boy like this say something so... selfless? It made her feel like she was somewhere she belonged for the first time in her life, even if it was under false pretenses. This pang of guilt... Now that she knew her secret identity was much more valuable a secret around these three girls than Ichika, she actually felt guilty thinking he was being this friendly simply because he thought she was the only other male in his life. Still, she put on her usual pleasant smile.
"Oh, I'm so touched!" She replied truthfully, though she was concealing her guilt over this whole matter. "You know, you're really a sweet guy!"
Was that... Yes! Yes, it was! Ichika... he blushed! Was it possible he wasn't as dense as she thought? Charles really was getting a lot of conflicting emotions on how savvy the boy was with girls. Granted, considering he currently thought Charles was a boy, maybe she was thinking about this the wrong way. Those girls, reacting to how she had saved Ichika from Brassière-sensei's crash or held hands with him in the hall... Was this boy really...?
"Would you like to tell me why you're blushing?" The Chinese girl Huang Lingyin asked, though in a rather interrogating manner, as she began to remove the lid from her lunch's tupperware container.
"Blushing? I'm not blushing, am I?" Considering it seemed like all the girls close to Ichika were highly volatile in temperament, it honestly wouldn't surprise Charles if Ichika was a... errr... confirmed bachelor. She'd certainly heard of cases where bad experiences with women led a man to favor the company of other men and he certainly had opened up to what he thought was the only other boy in the school surprisingly easily.
Lingyin set the lid of her lunch aside, grumbling to herself. Ichika's face lit up at the sight of what was inside. "Wow! Sweet and sour pork!" He gushed.
The Chinese girl showed a clear smile at that reaction. Oh, yes...this girl was clearly into him. "Yup! Made it this morning! You said you wanted to have some, right?"
A distinctly commanding throat-clearing nearly interrupted Lingyin. "Ichika, it so happens that I also awakened bright and early this morning and so I prepared this delightful basket of sandwiches for you." Sure enough, the blonde Brit held up a basket filled with various triangle-cut sandwiches. "I just, um... wanted to let you know that we do have tasty food in England, as well."
"Yeah, well... it sure does look good! Lemme try this one..." Ichika leaned in, Charles watching him curiously as he plucked a sandwich from the basket and took a bite. The boy chewed for a bit, but then his... face turned blue? What exactly was inside those sandwiches?
"Good, yes?" Cecilia asked, a pleasant look on her face and a slight pink blush to her cheeks. Ichika may have been oblivious to other girls' affections... But Cecilia seemed oblivious to Ichika's taste buds! "I do hope you like it. There's plenty more, so eat all you want!"
"Oh, well, then... I'll have some more later, okay?" Ichika replied, visibly sweating. Huh... Smooth answer. Avoided eating the food, yet didn't hurt the blonde Brit's feelings. Charles had to admit... Ichika deserved some girl-savvy credit for that one. "Let's see, I'll, uh... try Houki's next..."
"Well, this is what I brought..." Houki explained in a quiet voice, removing the lid of a traditional Japanese bento box to reveal a matching traditional Japanese bento meal.
"Whoa... that looks so good!" Ichika explained, nearly drooling. Hm... Classic Japanese comfort food, Charles supposed? "You spent so much time with this!"
"Uh, I was already making some for myself, so I made some for you too, but I only spent time on it because it was for me!" Houki obviously lied.
"I know, but it's still amazing. Thanks so much, Houki!" Ichika complimented, reaching in with his chopsticks to pluck out a piece of some kind of meat, much to the buxom Japanese girl's absolute delight. "Hold on stomach, here comes the good stuff!" He placed it in his mouth, chewing slowly but excitedly. Houki stared nervous anticipation of Ichika's judgment on its quality. Cecilia and now Houki. Did either of these girls actually taste-test their lunches after making them? "Wow, so good!" Ichika exclaimed in foodgasm delight. "I bet you really put a lot of effort into making this!"
The smile on the buxom Japanese girls' face seemed... genuine. Cearly an expression she didn't show very often. Charles got the feeling that, out of these three girls, Houki had the worst temper of the three and also the least sensitive toward Ichika's physical health and emotional state. Of course, that didn't excuse the other two. "Oh, just some ginger, soy sauce, some grated garlic to season it. Oh, and I added a little pepper to it at the beginning as well! The secret ingredient is little bit of grated daikon!"
As Ichika plucked yet another piece of meat from the bento, Charles looked to see the Brit and Chinese girl gazing forward with barely-restrained angry jealousy, downright growling. "Oh, this is seriously good!" Ichika nearly moaned. "Aren't you going to eat any, Houki?"
"Oh, eh-heh, no, I already ate the ones that didn't come out as well." That gave Charles pause. Even Ichika stopped chewing, again, to the boy's credit.
"Hm?" He inquired through his mouthful. Houki raised both hands up defensively.
"Er, uh, what I meant by that is, I'm fine, honestly! But I'm glad you like it. Please, enjoy the rest!" She brought both hands to her chest and nodded toward the boy.
"Awww, you should have some, too! C'mere!" Grabbing a bite with his chopsticks, Ichika leaned in, clearly attempting to feed Houki hiself. "Open wide!" He said in a slightly sing-song voice.
Both Cecilia and Lingyin let out a cry of distress, making Charles let out a hard-practiced boyish chuckle. Ichika... This boy clearly had no idea the effect he had on the libidos of the girls around him. It was honestly kind of cute. As the piece of meat neared the buxom Japanese girl's mouth, she was naturally dumbfounded.
"Um... What are you doing?" She asked in a light, breathy manner.
"C'mon! Just one bite!" Ichika urged her, a totally innocent smile on his face. Hmmm... Charles was getting an odd idea in her head... Was Ichika really...?
"Uhh, oh, okay then... Just one bite..." Houki again breathed, her voice several octaves higher than normal. The deep blush on her face persisted as she chomped down on the piece of meat held between the two purple chopsticks, bringing her hand up to bashfully cover her mouth as she chewed. Charles had to admit, for this girl's nitroglycerin-like temper, she had a cute side. She swallowed, giggling girlishly. "Ee hee hee! It is good..."
"I know! This fried chicken's really delicious!" Ichika complimented.
"Oh, well it's not fried chicken, but it is good," the buxom Japanese girl agreed, clearly still beside herself with giddiness at Ichika's romantic gesture.
Charles glanced at Cecilia and Lingyin. They were both gawking with their mouths hanging open and eyes wide with shocked and distraught expressions, making nonsensical noises.
"Oh, I believe I know what is going on here!" The French crossdresser finally spoke up. "You must be doing the famous 'say ah' thing that Japanese couples do, am I right?" She scratched her right cheek with her index finger as she added in "You guys must get along well!"
"But why are they getting along so well?" The petite Chinese girl growled.
"I find this completely outrageous! I demand a do-over!" The blonde Brit objected.
"I have an idea!" Charles offered. "Why don't we all exchange one piece with each other! There's no problem if we all feed each other, no?" This gave all three girls pause, even chuckling nervously.
"No, I don't mind." Ichika concurred.
"Well, I guess it's all right if Ichika doesn't mind." Lingyin nervously stated.
"Normally I wouldn't do anything that so goes against the fundamentals of proper table manners, but I suppose I should follow the old expression. When in Rome, do as the Romans do." Cecilia agreed.
Houki didn't say anything. She was still swooning deep in la-la land.
"All right, eat my pork! Try my sweet and sour pork now, Ichika!" The petite Chinese girl demanded, holding chopsticks out with a piece of pork between them.
The blonde Britt pushed her aside, holding out a sandwich. "Here, Ichika! You'll love my sandwich!" She insisted a bit more gently than Lingyin, though still assertively.
Ichika, clearly uncomfortable, raised his hands in defense. "Err, hang on, you two! Charles hasn't eaten anything yet!" The boy turned to the French crossdresser. "Charles? What did you bring?"
That caught her by surprise. "Oh, um... J-Just something I whipped up with some leftovers this morning..." Pulling out a round bowl from behind her back, Charles removed the plastic wrap, releasing the pent-up steam. "It is called ratatouille niçoise," she explained, presenting Ichika with a fork.
"Rata...tui?" Ichika attempted to pronounce it in Japanese. Charles chuckled boyishly, finding his attempt to breach the language barrier cute.
"It is a traditional French Provençal stewed vegetable dish, originating in Nice, Ichika," Charles explained. "I admit, it is... not that good. I really just threw it together with some leftovers from the school kitchen and had to make due with a hot plate to cook it. But as Joël Robuchon said in The Complete Robuchon, the secret of a good ratatouille is to cook the vegetables separately so each will taste truly of itself, you see!"
"Wow, I have no clue what you just said and I've never heard of this food, but I'll give it a try," Ichika replied, smiling.
The three girls chuckled smugly to themselves at seeming unison. “Like a boy, even a French one, could beat our heartfelt cooking with something he just half-assed this morning with leftovers and a hot plate.” Lingyin taunted.
With a pleasant smile on his face, Ichika gathered some of the bowl of stewed vegetables with his fork, placing it in his mouth. Just one bite, though, and he paused. He didn't remove the fork, either. In fact... he wasn't moving at all.
"Ichika-kun?" "Ichika, dear?" "Ichika?" "Mon ami?" The four girls asked one by one.
Abruptly, tears flowed from the young man's eyes. "How..." He asked aloud. "How is this possible?"
For a moment, Charles was worried she had done something wrong, while the other three girls themselves looked relieved, letting out distinct sighs of relief
“Look what you did, you French prettyboy! You’ve made Ichika dear cry with your horrible cooking!” Cecilia reprimanded. Charles bit her lip.
"How can a boy like you make something like this taste like heaven on Earth?" Ichika finally finished, sobbing into his fork.
Collectively, all three girls' jaws dropped.
"Out-done at the traditional art of cooking for a boy by a boy himself?!" Cecilia cried.
"My family owned a restaurant... My dad was the best chef ever... How could I lose?" Lingyin gaped.
Houki seemed to be rebooting, likely having undergone some sort of blue screen of death. Charles could understand. The buxom Japanese girl had gotten the best reaction from Ichika for her food, yet here the boy was having an outright orgasm from just a simple dish of ratatouille. Ratatouille thrown together at the last minute with leftovers and cooked on a hot plate. She had spent who knew how long going through countless trial runs to make the perfect bento. Honestly? Charles hadn't even been trying to do this. She certainly didn't think she'd be giving some of her lunch to her roommate, let alone that he'd find it the best thing he'd ever eaten. Had she... won a game she had no intention of actually playing? She vowed just then and there, as the three girls looked positively crestfallen... That she'd protect her true gender identity from them at all costs, lest they kill her in their sleep to remove a fourth rival. The French crossdresser swallowed hard at the thought.
"Whew... That was the best thing I've ever eaten! Seriously! Where'd you learn to cook like that, Charles?" Ichika asked as the two made their way back to Room 1025.
It was the end of the day, dark out, and both were out of their school uniform. Charles in a tracksuit and Ichika in a much more casual set of shorts and a T-shirt.
"Oh, um... I just, uh... Picked some things up here and there, is all..." she dismissed uncomfortably.
"Well, I'm surprised you became an IS pilot instead of a five-star chef! I can't believe you only threw that together with leftovers on a hot pla- Huh?" Ichika was jimmying the doorknob to their shared room, finding it would only move a little. "Is it jammed?"
"Oh, not at all!" Charles explained, stepping in front of the young man. "Just locked!" She produced a card key from her white and black tracksuit jacket, swiping it through a reader and swinging the door open.
"What? But... I thought that the doors in the dorms didn't have locks, what with this being an all-girls' school. I can't tell you the times girls have walked in on me and Houki in here..."
Charles chuckled nervously. "Oh, well, um... I spoke with Orimura-sensei and stressed the problem of two boys sharing a room in a dorm full of girls with no locks. While we were in class today, she arranged to have a lock installed on our door. Here, this is your copy of the card key, Ichika!" Reaching into her other pocket, she produced an identical card key, handing it to the boy.
Ichika smiled warmly at his roommate, making the French crossdresser blush. "Charles... For the third time today, I think you saved my life!"
The girl's blush deepened. Yet, why did she get the feeling this was the first true smile Orimura Ichika had shown all day?
"Ahhh... Two guys sharing a room is more like it, huh?" Ichika exclaimed, positively overjoyed at the prospect of not having to share a room with a girl anymore, as well as not having to have any more girls barge in on him.
Charles set down her Japanese-style cup of green tea on the desk they both sat at. "This is very different from European tea. It is not what I am used to, but still quite excellent." Ichika only smiled pleasantly at his roommate, taking another sip of his own Japanese tea. "So, I understand that you've been doing your IS training after school everyday. Would that be correct?"
"Yeah..." The boy sighed. "But that's only because I'm way behind everybody else."
"So would you mind if I started training with you?" Charles asked, leaning in with an excited smile on her face. "I think I can be of help to you since I have my own machine."
"Sure! That would be great!" Ichika agreed, that charming smile still gracing his manly features.
Charles's own smile only grew. "Okay, then! It is a date!"
The Japanese boy quirked his head to the side. "Date?"
"Um, I mean deal! Deal! Uh... S-Sorry, I, uh... I am still not fluent in Japanese yet, you know?" She corrected, chuckling nervously and rubbing the back of her head. “I, um... confused two phrases, no?”
The Japanese boy laughed heartily. "Ah ha ha ha! Yeah, no problem, Charles. I know French and Japanese are totally different languages." Standing up, Ichika stretched his arms over his head. "Whew! I'm gonna take a shower, okay, Charles? Did you wanna go first, or should I?"
"Hohn?" She looked up, curious. "Oh, you go on ahead, Ichika. I would like to finish my tea first."
"You got it," the boy stated casually. He turned to walk towards the bathroom and dropped his shorts as soon as he took a step. With a boyish scream, Charles covered her eyes. But curiosity getting the better of her, she looked to see Ichika had discarded his shirt as he continued his walk towards the bathroom, giving her a view of his beautiful, glorious, peach-shaped ass and muscled back. Oh, mon dieu... Her roommate would be the death of her!
While her Japanese spying subject was showering, Charles decided now was the perfect time to... Well, let out some steam. Going to her bed in the far corner, Charles promptly slid her track pants down her legs and kicked them away, then followed up with her track jacket. Her bandages and boxers stayed on, no matter how tight the former were.
Climbing into her bed, she laid on her side, facing toward the far wall and away from the bathroom. With a contented sigh, her hand reached down into her boxers, while the other found its way to her tightly-bound nipple underneath her bindings. Oh, mon dieu, yes... She needed this so bad. After seeing Ichika in various states of dress, including bare naked from both sides, she needed this so very, very much.
With little moans, she diddled the hidden treasure between her legs with wild abandon. She only had a few precious minutes, so she had to get herself off before her roommate got out of the shower! The second that running water stopped, all bets were off unless she could stay awake past the time Ichika fell asleep. Even then, she'd have to keep quiet. With a long, drawn-out French curse word, Charles exploded, relaxing her muscles on her bed as she rode the post-orgasmic shockwaves into a relaxing afterglow. Ahhh... curse that stupid, sexy, Adonis of a man.
"Charles? You okay?" Shooting upright, the French crossdresser was going to assure the boy she was fine, but...
Oh holy... He was nude. He was nude! He was completely and totally nude! His dick, which had to be six inches flaccid, hung limply between his legs, still dripping wet from his shower. Not a single hair existed on his body below the neck, likely shaved so as to be able to more easily fit into the school’s combat training uniform. With a boyish cry of fright, Charles tumbled off the bed. She caught herself and immediately climbed back on, afraid Ichika would try to help her up and see her half-naked form more clearly.
"Wh-What are you doing, Ichika?!" She cried.
The young man looked innocently confused. "What do you mean, Charles?"
"You're... c-completely naked, you perv!" Charles exclaimed, facing away from him.
"Yeah... so? Now that I finally don't have to worry about sharing a room with a girl or being afraid one will barge in, I can walk around naked like this. Besides, you're French, aren't you, Charles? Aren't you guys really relaxed about nudity, or something?" The Japanese young man dismissed.
"And what about you, Ichika? Aren't the Japanese supposed to be modest and prudish about their bodies?!" The French crossdresser shot back, turning to glare at him over her shoulder.
Ichika sighed. "Point taken. Cultural stereotypes are bad to assume. Do you want me to put something on?"
Charles hesitated to answer that question. If she said yes, it might arise suspicion with Ichika that she was a girl. But that's really not why she wanted to say no. She had to admit, as modest as she was, she actually was really enjoying the view.
"N-No, i-it's okay... I am... sorry I reacted so strongly. You are right, Ichika. We are both boys. There is no need to be modest," she stammered.
"Oh. Good. Well, sorry, I scared you like that, Charles." Ichika's apology was genuine. She could tell.
Charles' features softened, a thought going through her head. "Um... May I ask you a question, mon ami?"
The young man nodded, still making no motion to cover himself or even turn away. He didn't even show any reaction to the French crossdresser blatantly staring at his manhood. "What's up?"
"I could not help but notice that, errrm... You keep all of the girls at this academy at arms' length... So, well, um... Why were you so quick to open up to me, Ichika?" She asked.
That seemed to give the Japanese boy pause. To Charles' discomfort, he took a seat on her bed, still completely naked.
"Charles, it's your first day, so I guess you don't understand... But you and I are the only boys at this entire academy..." Ichika began.
"Errr... Yes, that's true..." Charles agreed, swallowing hard.
"When any guy spends this long around nothing but girls, he naturally starts to crave interaction with other guys. There's just a camaraderie, a bro code, that a guy and a girl can't have, even as friends. You start to miss that." Wait... Ichika's voice, his tone, his body language... He...? "I'm sure you've noticed, Charles. It's only just started for you, but it's been going on for me for a while. I'm not a student here, I'm not a boy here... I'm not even a person or a human being here. I'm eye candy. A slab of meat... None of the girls here, not even my own two childhood friends, seem to see me as a person with feelings..." Wait, so... Her observation, no, her assumption... was correct? "I know I seem dense, I know I seem oblivious. Like I don't understand what these girls are thinking, feeling, towards me... I'm well aware they all lust for me. Heck, I'm fully aware Houki, Rin, and even Cecilia want me... That I'm a prize to them..."
Charles turned to face him. "But... Ichika... Then why do you, eh... It's all an act?"
The young man sighed. "I know I act dense and oblivious to what they're feeling... But you’re right, it's exactly that; an act. I'm... not as dumb, or socially inept, as I look..."
Charles found herself scooting closer to Ichika's perch on the edge of her bed. "But... why do it? Why not tell them how you feel?"
"You've seen how they act, Charles. They don't care how I feel. If I told them I didn't want them, they would just take it as a challenge or me playing hard to get. But acting dense, oblivious... It's my defense mechanism. As long as they think I'm too stupid to know they want me, I have plausible deniability..." Ichika sighed. There was no bitterness in his voice. He more sounded sad.
Charles got up and crawled over to sit next to the very naked young man, pressed against him. She arm-to-arm, hip-to-hip, thigh-to-thigh... "Ichika... You're a really complex guy, you know... I'm surprised..."
A sad chuckle came from the young man's mouth. "I honestly expect a lot of people would say that... if they found out the truth. Heh, and if they cared about how complex I am. You probably haven’t heard about it yet, and I’ve been pretending to not know about it... But the upcoming competition... I’m going to be the boyfriend prize to whatever girl wins it. They really don’t give a damn about what I feel on the matter..." A truly pitiful sigh escaped Ichika, his muscled shoulders sagging. Did he... just look a few years older? "You're really my only friend, Charles. You're the only true ally I have in this entire school. Even the two girls I was best friends with while in primary and middle school don’t see me as anything more than eye candy. To be honest, I'm not sure what I did before you came here."
Charles wasn't sure why she did it, but what started as her arm wrapping around Ichika's shoulder... became the French crossdresser climbing into his naked lap to sit side saddle... and ended with her planting a kiss on his lips. She held it there for about five seconds before pulling away.
"Uh... Charles?" The Japanese boy asked.
Charles stammered for an explanation, not even sure why she did it. Did Ichika baring his soul to her like that and showing a vulnerable side for the first time... spur her on to do that? "Um, er, eh... Y-You know! France... Kissing... J-Just as, uh, how you say... friendly gesture? Um... between... Two guys... No?"
The boy seemed visibly uncomfortable about it but he quickly calmed. "You're right, Charles... How culturally insensitive of me. Besides, that actually made me feel a lot better. Your lips are soft, warm, wet... It reminds me of a mother’s kiss. It's nice to know the only other guy in this school is someone who can cheer me up so easily..."
The French crossdresser bit her lip, feeling a knife in her heart at that. "Um... Y-Yes. You can, errrmmm... a-always count on me, mon ami. Now, ah, uh... I am going to be hitting the sack now, so you should do so as well, Ichika. Hohn?"
The boy only nodded. His mood seemed a bit brighter than earlier.
Climbing out of Ichika's lap, Charles watched as the boy walked to his bed closer to the door, climbing under the covers. Charles watched him for a while, lost in her own emotions. With a sigh, she climbed into her own bed, letting her head hit the pillow.
Despite her attempts to sleep, she lied awake for quite a while. A million thoughts were going through her head, each sending pangs through her heart. Her mission, her place at this school, her current gender identity, the room she was sharing with a boy... But most of all, she couldn’t help wondering...
Was she actually falling for Orimura Ichika?
"Is it only when you are in love with another person that you see them as they really are? And in the ordinary way, when you are not in love with people, you see only a fragmented version of that being? Because when you are in love with someone, you do indeed see them as a divine being. And suppose that's what they are, truly. Your eyes have, by your beloved, been opened."
- Alan Watts
French Language Footnotes
Tomber amoureux = To fall in love
Étudiant de transfert = Transfer student
Oui = Yes
Mon Dieu = My God
Derrière = Bottom, rear end, bum, backside, etc.
Oh, merde! = Oh, shit!
C'est quoi ce bordel? = What the fuck?
Couilles = Testicles
S'il vous plait? = Please, would you kindly, if it pleases you, etc.
Mon ami = My friend
Brassière = Bra
Omelette du fromage = Cheese omelet
Cherchez la femme = French idiom. Literal: "Search for the woman." Metaphorical: "When a man has a problem, a woman is surely at the source."
Mesdames and mesdames = Charles was going to address her fan club as "mesdames and messieurs," or "ladies and gentleman," but realized partway through saying it that there weren't any "messieurs" present to address.
Pénis = That, and the string of words that followed, were all just various French terms for the male genitalia. Most were hardly vulgar.
Merci beaucoup = Thank you very much