Prologue – A Usual Morning
It was now July, and the strength of the sunlight could be felt even in the morning.
However, the apartment was equipped with the latest air conditioning system, so it felt just like it was autumn or spring. It kept the temperature and humidity around the kitchen at an appropriate level.
Kusunoki Masaki opened the door of the Pulse Kiln and took out a tray.
The steam spread out, and the smell of the browned cheese and tomato sauce reached his nostrils.
It was Spaghetti Bolognese, topped with lots of cheese, cooked in a stone kiln. He wanted the texture and the feel of the food to be enjoyable, and the aroma should be so good that someone would wake up with an appetite for it even on a hot summer morning.
“Yep, it’s pretty good.”
Masaki nodded at the end result.
There was a faint metallic sound and then the dining room door was opened.
A small girl walked in, smoothing down her hair that was like melted gold.
She was only as tall as Masaki’s chest, and her limbs and body were thin and delicate, giving her a doll-like appearance. But this girl was a second year high school student like Masaki and they were in the same class.
She was wearing an outfit that was similar to a blue dress. There were frills like open flowers on the hems of the sleeves and skirt. It wasn’t the official school uniform, but she had an impeccable appearance.
From the kitchen, Masaki greeted her over the counter.
“Hey, good morning Alice.”
She returned his greeting with a nod. Nevertheless, considering that it was morning, she was in a very good mood.
Her name was Alice Clockheart––the owner of this room.
She glanced at Masaki with her cool, blue eyes.
“…You’re just like a brownie.” (1)
“…Since you get the housework done while I’m sleeping.”
“Hahaha…I was only cooking. I’m just using the kitchen today. It’s a world of difference from the simple gas burner in my room. The Pulse Kiln is particularly amazing, it can be a gas burner, oven and stone kiln.”
When it came to cooking, he would become really talkative.
Alice changed the topic.
“…Masaki-kun, you’re here early this morning.”
“It’s worth getting up early and coming round if you’re going to eat my cooking.”
Masaki gave a bitter smile while placing the dish he had just made on the table.
Alice sat down on the dining chair.
“…What time did you get up?”
“Let’s see, since I had to do some training, it was probably around 4AM. I got here around 5AM.”
The analog clock held in the hands of the stuffed toy rabbit on the shelf showed that it was 6AM.
Today was a weekday, so they had to get to school by 7AM.
“…And yet a lot of people get up at 6AM.”
“That’s right. But since I’m devoted to cooking, getting up early in the morning is inevitable. It’s not hard since I enjoy doing it.”
He poured the tea from the teapot into the cup.
It was a pale pink liquid that colored the table.
Alice lifted the cup with her left hand. Then her lips were wet softly.
“…Hm…it’s not bad.”
“That’s a relief.”
“It’s been a while since you said that.”
“…There are lots of rooms left.”
“Ah, I haven’t heard that for some time.”
Alice owned the whole 30 floor apartment block. She always used the room on the top floor.
Sometimes she’d get into a fight with her roommate––or perhaps it would be more accurate to say both of them would completely wreck the room…but still, the two of them wouldn’t be able to occupy all of the floors, so the floors below were left unused.
She had offered to rent one of the free rooms to him but…
Renting a room from a female classmate would make him feel embarrassed, so Masaki continued to refrain from accepting it.
Alice was taciturn by nature. Once there was no more to say on that topic, they silently continued their quiet breakfast.
However, the silence wasn’t awkward, rather it could be said that it was an enjoyable silence.
The sound of the teacup being placed on the saucer.
Then the sound of a fork being stuck into a Caesar salad.
The degree of their awareness of each other was slight.
Bam! The door was thrown open.
A voice like a cat caught in the rain rang out as another girl entered the room.
“Wa~, it’s so hot~”
It was Shirley.
She lived together with Alice.
However, in contrast to Alice who appeared impeccably dressed in the morning, Shirley was dressed immodestly.
The word “animal” was written in big letters on the loose t-shirt she was wearing. No, he should forget about the pattern of the t-shirt for now.
That thin material covered her body lacked any concept of shame or modesty, it was too inadequate. As her breasts bounced, their shape became visible, including her nipples which had hardened.
Masaki averted his eyes to the kitchen.
“Let’s see…I’ll make Shirley’s portion right away.”
“Thanks Masakii, I’d like water too.”
He poured cold water into a cup and placed it on the table while trying not to look at her.
“Nihaha, it’s natural for it to be hot since it’s summer.”
“…Because it’s hot is why we have an air conditioner.”
“I don’t like air conditioners. After all, how can you not sweat in summer! It’s fine if I wake up covered in sweat.”
“…That’s impossible to understand but, I’ll let it go for now as your individual preference… however, why did you come into the dining room dressed like that?”
“Hm? Isn’t this the same t-shirt and shorts that I always wear?”
“…You should at least wear your underwear. And at the minimum, you should wear clothes that don’t show your underwear…no, you could say that’s the least you can do as a civilized human. “
“Nihaha, my bra’s tight. I brought another one but it shrunk immediately.”
They weren’t talking about whether not her underwear had shrunk, so why did Shirley bring it up? Masaki thought, but wisely stayed silent.
Alice’s negative aura became stronger.
“…Whether it’s tight, loose, big or small…you shouldn’t say something like that.”
Masaki placed Shirley’s portion of the spaghetti on the table.
“Although you’re in your own home, you should think about your roommate as well.”
“Wa, it looks delicious!”
“Shirley, are you paying attention to what Alice is saying?”
Upon being asked, she nodded many times without putting down her plate.
She was really honest.
This was the first time he had said that to Shirley since they were kids.
Alice said in a disappointed voice,
“…You should at least wear your underwear.”
“I get it. Ah, but, I’m already wearing panties, aren’t I? “
She pinched her shorts, making the sound of rustling clothes.
––Why did she take it off!?
“Ah, it was hot so I took them off.”
Alice got up from her chair and kicked it away.
And fetched a set of cards from the hidden pocket on her skirt.
“Guh…I’m going to educate you about character and intelligence, you monkey!”
“Mo-monkey!? It was only a little mistake. I always do that when I wake up!”
“So, I’ll educate you thoroughly so that you’ll never make a mistake like that again…no…I’ll train you.”
Masaki clapped his hands.
“Aren’t we meeting an important person in the headquarters of Breaker before HR? Eat quickly or we’ll be late.”
Shirley who was already seated started to eat with gusto.
Alice sat down on the other side of the table.
“Here, I made some iced tea.”
Masaki sat down on a chair after he poured the tea into the cup. It had become a little lively, like it usually was at breakfast.
(1) – Brownie is a benevolent elf that does housework in secret in British folklore.