Following Chiaki's directions, the group reached the gymnasium in no time and just like what the girl said, a public bathhouse was located about thirty yards away. Kiyotaka didn't try to escape anymore and simply accepted his fate, and he was only glad that they didn't come across any other student along the way.
As they arrived at their destination, the reactions were instantaneous.
"I can't believe it..."
"Woah... it's actually real!"
"This is so amazing! Now I can finally take a bath in an onsen!"
All three girls reacted with varying degrees of shock upon seeing the establishment, while Chiaki watched with an amused smile. Even Kiyotaka was taken aback for a moment, before reminding himself that this was a product of how broken his 'superpower' was.
From the traditional look alone, it was obviously a bathhouse. It even had a sign outside that said 'Now open for students and teachers!', which indicated that it only started recently. However, the most surprising thing about the place is that there was absolutely no one else around... even though there should be.
It was Kikyo who snapped out of her state of disbelief first. "Come on, let's go in!" she exclaimed with a tone full of eagerness.
Unsurprisingly, Suzune shook her head. "I'm not here to take a bath. I only wished to see if Matsushita-san was telling the truth and I have my answer. I have nothing else to do here."
"Come on, Horikita-san. There's no other student around right now, and I honestly think that we're the first ones to find out about this place. Why don't we take advantage of the situation and try out the onsen inside?" Chiaki suggested. "I mean, would you like to take a bath here when there are many students around instead?"
Just as she turned around and prepared to leave, Suzune listened to Chiaki's words and thought about it for a moment.
"I suppose you do make a good point..." she muttered, seeing no harm in trying out the onsen in this place while there wasn't anyone else around other than them. It would definitely be more peaceful to be around people whom she was already acquainted with. "Though it does bring up the question of why this wasn't announced to the students. Something like this concerns us and at the very least, someone should have told us about it."
Chiaki shrugged, having no answer herself. "Who knows? I just saw this place on my own, no one really told me anything."
"Wow... I guess Hoshinomiya-sensei wasn't kidding. There really is a public bath here!" a new voice spoke up, quickly catching everyone's attention and making them turn towards the person that just arrived.
"Ichinose-san? You're here too?" said Kikyo, surprised upon seeing the strawberry-blonde student of Class B walking towards them.
"Oh, it's nice to see you all again!" Honami waved her arm in greeting and smiled. "And yeah, I just found out about this place from Hoshinomiya-sensei, actually. I'm planning to tell my classmates after I'm done here. What about you guys?"
"Matsushita-san just told us about this place earlier. We were really surprised when we found out about it, so we decided to check it out," explained Kikyo. "I still can't believe the school built this for the students!"
While Kikyo spoke with the beautiful strawberry-blonde girl from Class B, Kei approached Chiaki with a look of confusion on her face.
"Uh, who is she?" she asked, pointing to the girl who showed up out of nowhere.
"I'm surprised you don't know who she is, Karuizawa-san. Ichinose-san is one of the most popular girls in our year like Kushida-san."
"Well, it's not like I've spent my time going out and being with other people for the past weeks," Kei retorted. It's not her fault that she didn't know. She couldn't exactly balance studying with going out and meeting new people. "Her name is Ichinose?"
"Yes. She's Ichinose Honami from Class B. She also talks to some of our classmates whenever they see her at the cafeteria. Are you sure you've never even seen her yet?"
"Positive," Kei nodded. She mostly spent her lunch break sitting with her friends and sometimes, Kiyotaka and Airi. However, there has never been an instance where she has seen Ichinose yet. "Class B, huh..."
"I honestly didn't believe Hoshinomiya-sensei at first, so I decided to go to the gymnasium where it's located. I'm glad I did!" Honami added, before she noticed a familiar face who was with the girls of Class D.
Behind Kikyo and Suzune, was Ayanokouji Kiyotaka.
Just the sight of him was enough to make Honami blush slightly, as she averted her gaze and looked elsewhere.
She could still remember that day... when he tried to flirt with her. That was flirting, right? She may not have experienced romance before, but she knew what he meant with those words... and honestly, he was the last person she expected to do such a thing.
Ayanokouji may have tried to pass it off as a joke, but she doubted it. He looked and sounded serious about what he said, which was why it was even more embarrassing! She couldn't stop thinking about it for the rest of that day and only forgot about it when she went to sleep. And now, after seeing him again, it was all coming back to her!
Still, she couldn't just ignore his presence. It wasn't in her nature to not care about someone. Even a simple greeting would be fine at this point.
Honami waved her arm weakly and flashed a small smile. "H-Hi, Ayanokouji-kun."
Kiyotaka returned the gesture with a nod. "Hello, Ichinose."
"Not on my watch..." Kikyo was quick to notice the little interaction between the two and immediately thought of something to intervene.
At the moment though, she can't exactly tell the Class B student to get lost and leave them alone, so the only thing she could do was direct their attention towards her.
"Since you're here, does this mean you're going to take a bath as well, Ichinose-san? We were thinking of checking in and having a soak for an hour or two."
The strawberry-blonde girl felt grateful for Kushida with that question. She had no idea what to do next after seeing Ayanokouji here... it's like her brain shut down all of a sudden just from laying her eyes on him!
"That's what I wanted to do, actually. I've gone to an onsen only once before, so having one inside the school premises is like a dream come true," Honami said, directing her attention towards Kikyo. "Although... I don't know what to do about my clothes. I want to take a bath here, but I don't have any spare clothes with me..."
That quickly diminished Kei and Kikyo's hopes of having a relaxing soak in the steamy water. They didn't think about having spare clothes to use, they only thought of taking a bath in the onsen and nothing more.
Of course, they could still go to the dorms and grab some clothes but if they do, then this place might be flooded with students when they come back.
But before they could give up hope completely, a new voice cut through their conversation yet again. This time, the voice came from inside of the bathhouse itself.
"If you're worried about not having anything to wear once you're done, then there is no need to worry. This place offers spare uniforms for students who want to check in and use their water for a quick or long soak."
Chabashira Sae, the homeroom teacher of Class D, walked out of the building with her arms folded across her chest. Her usual serious expression was on full display, even though they weren't in the classroom anymore.
"Chabashira-sensei!" all the other girls chorused, completely surprised to see the woman here.
"First Ichinose, now Chabashira-sensei? I'm starting to think that this 'special event' is going to involve all of my 'heroines' so far..." Kiyotaka thought as he was surprised to find Sae here, of all places.
Hmm... it can't be a coincidence that both Ichinose and Chabashira were here, right?
First, it was the talk about bathhouses between the girls earlier in the morning. And then, out of nowhere, the school suddenly has one. Next, there were the two notifications from earlier which he still couldn't figure out until now. And now, after checking out the place for themselves, two more of his heroines have shown up. At this point, Kiyotaka had a feeling that this wouldn't be the end of it. 𝗯𝗲𝗱𝗻𝐨𝐯𝗲𝗹.𝗰𝗼𝗺
The fact that these events are playing out too perfectly was making him nervous.
"Yes, it's me. There's no need to announce my name so loud," Sae told them firmly.
"What are you doing here, sensei?" asked Kei, which was the question on everyone's minds right now.
"Checking out what this place had to offer," the woman replied with a shrug. "Like I said, this place has spare uniforms for students to use if they don't have anything to change into. They also provide clothes for teachers who are in the same boat. Of course, you'll have to return the clothes they lent you the next time you go here."
"Does that mean you're going to try the onsen there, Chabashira-sensei?" asked Kikyo.
"Of course. It would be a waste to go all this way and do nothing here. The price for an hour in the bath is only 500 points, which isn't a big deal unless you plan on staying for longer than that. Now, I suppose you're also here for the same reason as me. I assume all of you still have points in your funds?"
All of the girls nodded in response, while Kiyotaka just stood in his place and didn't do anything.
Nonetheless, Chabashira gave a satisfied nod. "Good. Let's register altogether, then. Things will be easier that way."
"W-Wait, even... even Ayanokouji-kun...?" Honami asked, addressing the elephant in the room.
Sae raised an eyebrow at her. "Well yeah, that's why he's here, isn't he? Does his presence bother you?"
"N-No, not really, uhm..." Honami stuttered, having trouble with finding the right words to say. She didn't like feeling this way, because it was so unlike her! What's worse is that the same guy that was making her feel like this was here with her.
It was just too embarrassing!
"I get it. It's because he's a boy, right?" the older woman asked, which only served to make the girl's face redder. "Well, we can't do anything about that. The place only offers a mixed bath, so we'll have to go inside altogether. Besides, he's not going to do anything inappropriate with any of us... right?"
The brown-haired teacher made sure to emphasize that one word as if it was a warning.
Kiyotaka was about to open his mouth to say that he wasn't here to take a bath, but gave up on that thought. If he continues to resist, it will only make things harder for him because the system will still get what it wants in the end whether he likes it or not.
What a great superpower to have...
"Of course not," he replied.
"That's the biggest load of bullshit I've heard from you so far," Sae thought to herself, remembering what happened between them at the rooftop a few days ago before snapping out of it. The more she thinks about it, the more it'll bother her. "See? If it still bothers you, then we can just ask him to occupy a different area. Will that be fine with you, Ayanokouji?"
"I have no problem with that."
With a red face, Honami turned towards the young man and bowed her head. "T-Thank you..."
[You have gained 1 Affection Point with Ichinose Honami!]
"Is there anyone else here who's uncomfortable with Ayanokouji being with us?" Chabashira asked, turning her attention to the rest of the girls.
It surprised Kiyotaka that none of the other girls seemed to have any intention of raising their hands, which meant that they were all fine with being in the same place as them, with nothing but a towel covering their bodies.
Out of nowhere, Suzune's hand shot up, but it wasn't because of what Sae asked them.
"I have a different question. Why weren't we informed that the school now has a bathhouse, Chabashira-sensei? Something like this should have been said in an announcement or in a poster as an advertisement, because this affects both students and teachers alike."
"That's because there was no announcement made over the intercom, nor were there any posters about this place," Sae explained. "If there were, I think you can imagine for yourselves how flooded this place would be if everyone in this school heard it. Personally, it was a good move. Let the students and teachers find this place all on their own."
"Yeah, this bathhouse being announced all over the school would have been worse..." Kei muttered, and the rest of the girls could only nod in agreement.
Suzune thought about it for a bit, before she found herself agreeing as well. If such a thing happened, then she wouldn't even dare to go near this place or think of bathing here... at least until it's not fully occupied.
"Then how did you know about this place so quickly, sensei?" Chiaki asked.
"Believe it or not, I was on my way home to my unit since I finished early when I saw this place and decided to check it out. After talking to the owner about the place, I went out and saw the... six of you," she said, paying special attention to the brown-haired teen who was doing his best to keep a low presence.
She had no idea why that smug brat was here (Sae didn't believe that he was here just to take a bath), but she wasn't going to let him ruin her chance at having a relaxing time!
Teachers need to relieve themselves of stress too, after all.
"What's it like inside, sensei?" Kikyo asked in an eager tone.
"Other than the spare clothes that they lend to students and teachers, it has an upside and a downside. The downside is, as I said, it only has a mixed bath. There's no specific area for men and women. They'll have to take a bath together. The upside? The place is huge and has a lot of stuff to impress. It's huge enough to house your entire class if you decide to take a bath altogether... which is something that the perverts among you would say once they find out about this place," she snickered. After finishing her little explanation, she then noticed that her students (except for Horikita and Ayanokouji) were staring at her in clear surprise. "What are you all staring at?"
"S-Sensei, you just made a joke..." Honami muttered.
Sae stared at them flatly. "I did, so what?"
"It's just... you never make jokes... you're always serious most of the time..." Kei added.
"I know how to crack a joke sometimes, you brats. Stop making a big deal out of it," the older woman snapped.
Seriously, these kids could give her an easy headache whenever they wished and she hated it...
Kiyotaka watched the interaction between his classmates and their teacher in complete silence, hoping to get ignored until the end of this 'special event' which still confused him to no end.
However, his hopes of that happening were utterly destroyed when a familiar voice rang in his ears.
"What is this? Ayanokouji-kun is also here? Oh my, this has truly become such a fruitful day~"
He didn't even need to turn around to know who it was.
"Of course. Now I understand," the young man thought as he finally put the pieces together. Kiyotaka wanted to punch himself for taking this long to realize it. "This 'special event' is all about taking a bath with all my heroines, isn't it?"
Yet another classic scenario from eroges and dating simulators alike... and now it was happening to him.