Chapter 102: Preparations

Hearing Ais’s words, Vahn’s mind exploded. He felt like all the energy that had remained in his body spontaneously drained out and he hung his head like a marionette that had its strings cut. Ais, who had been watching him, frowned slightly and said in a sad sounding tone, “You don’t…like me?” Her words made Vahn’s brain buzz, and he felt like everything that happened in the last few hours was too much for his mind to handle.

In a small voice, Vahn tried to muster a bit of strength as the responded, “But we’re not lovers or anything…and you are too young…” Ais seemed to agree with what he said, but she said in a matter-of-fact tone of voice, “Yes, but, I will be 14 soon. Then we can try.” Each word she spoke made Vahn feel like a heavy weight was pressing down on him. He didn’t know if he should laugh or cry because he could tell she was being serious.

Vahn looked toward her and asked, “Why me?” Even though he knew her affection had risen to 88 after their earlier kiss, Vahn didn’t think he was close enough to Ais for her to go so far. Ais tilted her head sideways in confusion at his words. “Mmm, you are different. Pleasant feelings…” As she spoke, she placed her hands on her chest and closed her eyes. After a while, she looked at Vahn again and said, “I think I can become stronger too…”

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Seeing the conviction in her eyes, Vahn couldn’t help but release a sigh and smile at her. “I believe in you as well; I know you will be much stronger in the future.” As Vahn had known the future version of Ais from the manga, he knew she would mature a lot in the next two years as her strength increases. Right now she was barely taller than he was and looked a lot like a young girl, instead of the cool beauty she was in the future.

Ais, hearing the ‘certainty’ in Vahn’s words, nodded her head and displayed a happy smile. Though it was minute compared to a normal person, Vahn could see she was pleased with what he had said. Returning a smile of his own, Vahn tried rising to his feet since he had recovered a bit of strength. Ais, seeing him try to rise, stepped forward and stopped him from doing so. Being pushed back to the ground, Vahn began having flashbacks of his earlier experience with Tiona.

Fortunately, Ais didn’t throw herself on top of him as he expected. Instead, she sat down next to him and locked eyes before saying, “You are tired. Rest here…” As she spoke, Ais patted her thighs which were covered in a metallic plate skirt. Her gauntlets made a ‘thunk-thunk’ sound as the two pieces of armor collided. Vahn knew she was trying to be kind, but he couldn’t help but feel a little apprehensive seeing the hard metal surface covering her thighs.

Ais noticed his look and realized her mistake. Standing, she removed the clasps that were holding her armor together and revealed a pleated black skirt underneath. Setting her armor to the side, she sat back down next to Vahn and once again patted her thighs. Unlike the metallic thumping from last time, it was now a soft a muted noise that sounded much more comfortable. Seeing her actions, Vahn laughed a little before resting his head on her thighs.

Unlike his expectations, Ais’s thighs were a bit more muscular than he thought. They were still very soft, but he could feel the tension of the muscles on the back of his head. He lay there, enjoying the strange sensations as he looked toward Ais. As he had been laying with his head facing upward, Ais was looking down on him with a blank expression. Seeing that he wasn’t properly ‘relaxing’, Ais remoted the gauntlet on her hand and placed it on his forehead.

“Sleep. I will wake you when it’s time.” She continued stroking her hand along his head, and Vahn felt a mild blush touch his cheeks as he felt she was treating him like Lefiya. Instead of the normal ‘patting’, the way Ais touched people almost seemed like she was ‘petting’ them. Vahn almost wanted to laugh, but he managed to hold it back as he tried relaxing. Closing his eyes, he just enjoyed the moment and tried to focus on recovering his energy.

Though nearly twenty minutes had passed, Vahn was unable to fall asleep on Ais’s lap. Though he had originally been focusing on recovering, the longer he laid there, the more distracted he became. The ‘awkward’ patting of Ais began to become more pleasant feeling, while the sensation on the back of his head made his heart begin to beat at a faster pace. The most problematic thing though was the honey-like smell that came from Ais’s body. The longer he lay on her lap, the more aware he became of the smell and it began to make his mind start to feel numb as a feeling of anxiety welled up in his temples.

Vahn felt like, ever since the first kiss with Tiona this morning, his emotions had been entirely out of whack. Though the ‘lesson’ from Riveria was very insightful, it now made Vahn overly conscious of everything that was happening when he was in contact with a girl. He felt like, the previous him, would have been comfortably enjoying a lap pillow, much like he had been in every other situation prior. But now, instead of being comfortable, it made him feel anxious and excited.

Ais had noticed he was still awake, so she spoke out, “Can’t sleep? Uncomfortable?” She felt sad after thinking Vahn was dissatisfied with her attempts to help him relax. Vahn shook his head slightly before opening his eyes and seeing her sad expression. He didn’t want her to misunderstand, so he explained what he was feeling. “It’s not uncomfortable, but I don’t think I can sleep easily either. My mind is too focused on the feeling of your thighs, the touch of your hand, and the smell coming from your body.”

The first part of Vahn’s words made Ais feel ‘fluttery’ in her chest, but when he continued to the last part she couldn’t help but frown.”Do I stink? I took a bath…” As she asked the question, Ais couldn’t help but sniff at her own body a bit. To her, the only thing she could smell was the soap they had used to wash with. Vahn shook his head again before trying to explain, “No, it’s not a stench, it is more like a pleasant smell that makes my body get excited.”

After his clarification, Ais nodded with a small smile on her lips; she was glad she didn’t stink and that Vahn found her smell ‘pleasant’. Curious, she bent forward and began to smell his body to see if she could catch his scent as well. Vahn, seeing Ais bend forward, became a bit flustered. It felt like Ais was about to bury his face into her breastplate, but fortunately, she stopped before he made contact with the cold metal. Vahn noticed she began to smell him, and he started feeling very nervous…

“Do…do I stink?” Vahn asked the words and began thinking back to all the previous incidents where girls seemed to smell his body. He wondered if he smelled bad, and recalled that he used to have issues with hygiene in the past. Ais shook her head before looking into his face and saying, “No…it smells strange, but I don’t dislike it. It smells like you?” Ais didn’t seem to understand how to express the words. After a while, she just nodded her head and said, “It smells good.”

Vahn gave an awkward laugh for a few moments before releasing a sigh. He was glad he didn’t smell bad, but it made all the times when girls were sniffing him seem more awkward. Both Lili and Naaza often took care of his laundry, and Vahn had, on occasion, caught them smelling the dirty garments. He didn’t think anything of it at the time, but now he understood that girls seemed susceptible to his aroma, just like his mind seemed to be influenced by Ais’s.

Apparently still curious, Ais bent forward and continued to smell Vahn’s body, but before she was able to do so for long, he quickly escaped from the lap pillow. Knowing that she found his smell to be ‘good’, Vahn felt incredibly awkward just letting her sniff him. He felt like, if he remained in that situation for too long, any benefits he gained from resting would be entirely wasted.

Ais stared at Vahn who had jumped away from her body so quickly. She wondered if her actions were a bit weird, but before she asked, Vahn began waving his hands back-and-forth. “Don’t worry about it Ais, I’m just going to clear my head a bit and try to meditate a bit to recover my energy. If I stay on your lap any longer, I feel like my efforts to rest would be lost due to my excitement.” Vahn disliked when his actions made the girls upset, and seeing how Ais has so few expressions, he didn’t want any of them to be ‘sad’.

Ais nodded at his words before standing up herself. After re-attaching her armor, she turned toward Vahn and stared at his face, or somewhere slightly below his face. Realizing what she was looking at, Vahn felt his tensions rise a bit, but he decided to take the initiative as she seemed to be thinking to herself. Closing the distance, Ais made eye contact with him before opening her arms slightly. Vahn reached his hands around her body and gave her a gentle kiss. He continued to do so for a few seconds before pulling away after what he thought was an appropriate amount of time.

Seeing the watery look in Ais’s eyes, Vahn couldn’t help but ask, “How was it?” Ais, who had been somewhat dazed, blushed a bit before she looked at him. “Nnn, it was good.” After that, she separated from Vahn and began to head toward the center of camp. Taking a few steps, she stopped and looked at Vahn who had been watching her departure. “It was better than the last time.” With those final words, Ais turned and quickly walked away from the area.

After she had completely disappeared, Vahn let himself fall backwards onto the grassy ground below. Once again, he felt like all of his energy was drained as he looked toward the shining crystals of the ceiling. He didn’t know ‘dealing’ with girls was so mentally and physically taxing, but at least he was able to increase Ais’s affection to 90 after their second kiss. She was now one of the people with the highest affection towards Vahn, and it made him feel a mixture of emotions including happiness.

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In his reflection, Vahn felt like there were going to be a lot of difficult situations like this in the future, and he began to worry if his body and mind would be able to hold out. He began to worry if there were any other girls that liked him, and Vahn began to seriously consider how he would deal with them in the future. According to Riveria, it wasn’t uncommon for people to have multiple partners, but Vahn felt like he wasn’t even capable of dealing with Tiona and Ais, much less other girls. Remembering Ais’s words and her interest in sex, Vahn began to feel both anticipation and dread for the future.

“I should have asked when her birthday is…”

(A/N: Alternate Titles: ‘The future is scary’,’Tiona smash’,’Thunk-Thunk’)

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