It went without saying that if the Student Council was going to support Kinshiro by following him into battle on behalf of a talking hedgehog, they were going to support Akoya and Ibushi in their individual pursuits just as much. This was not a problem until they saw the mascot for the group the hedgehog wanted them to fight.
Akoya breathed out a silent oh. Kinshiro and Ibushi looked at him; even in the solemn Caerula Adamas uniform, he was radiant, cheeks infused with wonder as he absentmindedly twirled a lock of hair around his finger.
Kinshiro and Ibushi looked at each other. Then Kinshiro turned back to the Battle Lovers and recited the threats they’d scripted, so the Student Council could bid a hasty retreat.
Akoya was still sighing dreamily back in the Student Council room after they’d detransformed. “Perhaps their… leader… could be persuaded to come to our side?” Ibushi suggested. Akoya looked at him eagerly; Kinshiro looked at him with a bit more skepticism. Ibushi ignored him. They’d only had Akoya officially in the Student Council for a few months, but Ibushi knew how much they both cared about making sure Akoya had whatever he wanted.
“It does have a certain elegance,” Kinshiro allowed. “Majesty. Splendor, even.” Carefully, no one said anything, but they all eyed Kinshiro’s pocket that Zundar was so fond of popping in and out of, with a conspicuous lack of elegance, majesty, or splendor.
“It’s amazing,” Akoya beamed. And for all that it was bright pink to a ridiculous degree- nothing like Akoya’s own refined shades- Kinshiro and Ibushi couldn’t help but agree: it truly was. “A real unicorn, in Binan!”
The next morning the school was buzzing with excitement. It often was, but for once this wasn’t just another campaign to win votes at the Pretty Boy Day election; the gossip was for Tawarayama-sensei’s new pet.
“Two unicorns in Binan!” Akoya enthused. “And at our school!”
Kinshiro and Ibushi dared to exchange a hopeful look. This unicorn would be much easier to procure for Akoya; would he be happy with one, but not both, of the unicorns?
They caught a glimpse of it in between classes. Like the first unicorn, it was shockingly pink. “I had no idea all unicorns were like this,” Kinshiro mused out loud. Then again, he had only seen the two, and had previously been unaware of their confirmed existence; he was hardly an authority. He shouldn’t judge an entire species based off such a small sample. After all, he wasn’t judging this unicorn to be an enemy simply because the first and only other unicorn he’d ever seen was on the side of the Battle Lovers.
Then Tawarayama-sensei came to the Student Council room itself after school, with his unicorn. Flushed with excitement, Akoya deigned to try to serve tea and sweets to the unicorn, but it ignored him.
Tawarayama-sensei was there to register a new club, of which he would be the advisor. Ibushi and Kinshiro brightened; they could easily abuse their authority in the school to gain the club’s favor. The only tricky part would be to make sure Akoya stayed in the Student Council instead of joining this other club.
Then Kinshiro noticed exactly what was written on the paper Tawarayama-sensei had presented to him: Earth Defense Club.
Ibushi noted the way Kinshiro’s face suddenly closed off, and leaned over to read the club’s name upside-down. “Oh dear,” he murmured.
Kinshiro slammed the red-inked approval stamp onto the form viciously. He made a copy for the club- it wouldn’t do to have someone accuse him of purposefully “losing” the acceptance over a personal grudge- and then the unicorn, with the teacher, left.
“I see,” Akoya said softly after looking at the original with the members of the club listed. He sat down.
It wasn’t that Kinshiro’s preferences were more important than Akoya’s, but in this case, Akoya understood that there was nothing Kinshiro could do without going against everything that defined Kinshiro as himself. The only thing left to do was to come up with his own plan.
“How did he get up the stairs?” Ibushi asked abruptly.
“The unicorn? I don’t know; can horses walk up stairs?”
“He’s not a horse,” Akoya corrected automatically. “Maybe he flew!”
It wasn’t like anyone could claim it wasn’t possible; they didn’t know.
“Regardless, we should work on accommodations,” Akoya continued, inspired. “Even if this unicorn can manage the stairs, we’re already setting a precedent that unicorns are allowed in the school.” They hadn’t discussed that, but they hadn’t needed to. Nobody was going to be kicking out that unicorn. “What if there’s a unicorn that’s too young to get around the same way this one did?”
“We certainly wouldn’t want to discourage a unicorn foal from visiting,” Kinshiro acknowledged. Akoya really would quit if they did. “It’s about time for some major renovations anyway; I’m thinking both elevators and ramps.”
That, at least, got Kinshiro’s mind off how jealous he was of Atsushi’s abysmally good luck when it came to making new friends and discarding old ones. First it was just one classmate, then he had a whole club, and even a unicorn to boot? It simply wasn’t fair.
“Akoya,” Kinshiro said, “do you really think that we need a treasurer?”
Akoya shrugged, flipping his hair over his shoulder. “Do you think the unicorn has a favorite student? If I had to pick a favorite, it would be Naruko Io. Perhaps the unicorn would follow him to our club.”
“Fair enough,” Kinshiro conceded. “You may go ahead and invite him.”
Kinshiro gritted his teeth, but stopped. Why did this always happen when he was alone?
“I wanted to thank you for approving our club,” Atsushi continued earnestly. “I really appreciate it. I know you could have really questioned things, and made things difficult for Tawarayama-sensei-”
“What was I supposed to question?” Kinshiro interrupted. “I was hardly going to start arguing that unicorns aren’t real, when they clearly are. And I have talked to Tawarayama-sensei lately; I know better than to expect straight answers from him. He’s been very off, recently,” Kinshiro added, mostly to himself.
Atsushi winced. “Anyway… thank you. It means a lot to me. Do you-”
“I didn’t do it for you.” Kinshiro brushed him off and walked away. Maybe if he kept telling himself that, it would become true.
Once Kinshiro had his change of heart, it went without saying that the rest of the Student Council would follow him to the Battle Lovers’ side. Not only did the move support Kinshiro, it also brought them one step further to achieving Akoya’s ambition.
“So there was only ever one unicorn,” Akoya said, a little sadly.
“You can call him Wom-san!” Hakone Yumoto said.
“Or Wombat,” Io clarified.
No one answered that. It may have been because they still had a giant robot to defeat.
After, when Atsushi and Kinshiro were gazing into each other’s eyes, and Akoya was gazing at Wombat with a similar fervor, Ibushi was the only one left for Zundar to address his complaint to. “Why?! I promised you everything! Why did you turn against me so easily?”
Ibushi simply gestured behind him. Yumoto was informing Akoya that Wombat claimed to dislike physical affection but would trade cuddles for allegiance; Akoya seemed torn between valiantly upholding the unicorn’s preferences and giving in to flinging his arms around the pink neck. Ibushi could have explained the power of friendship, and how he would follow Kinshiro anywhere, and how all Kinshiro had really wanted was to have his old friends alongside his new ones, but he only said, “When someone like you is compared to an actual unicorn? This was inevitable.”