Giving in to his emotions and raising his voice, Taiyou yelled in the direction of the room. Pochi, still naked, timidly peeked at Taiyou in response to him suddenly raising a loud voice. She wasn’t necessarily frightened, but was more of perplexed as to why he had suddenly raised a loud voice. Taiyou was also perplexed, but, his cause of perplexation was much clearer. After all, he was certainly not expecting to see Pochi naked and the sight was too dazzling for his eyes.
Unable to face her head-on, he subtly avoided her with his eyes. Both in a state of perplexity, the two of them spent a brief moment of silence together. At length, Pochi gathered up her courage and broke the ice.
「Please let me wash your back.」
「N-No, you don’t have to do that.」
In contrast to the courageous Pochi, Taiyou wavered like a middle-school boy.
「You just entered the hot spring, right? So come in before it gets cold.」
As he rejected her offer, Pochi began to become more and more teary-eyed. A feeling of guilt pierced through Taiyou’s chest.
「You don’t want me to…?」
「No, it’s just…」
「I get it I get it, just please don’t look at me like that.」
Pochi’s eyes were like that of an abandoned puppy. Unable to last against that, Taiyou gave permission. As soon as he did that, her face burst into a broad smile.
「…Before we do that…」
Taiyou diverted his eyes away from her and slipped past her side, making a mad dash for the changing room. Grabbing the door, he threw it open at once with a clatter.
A female scream could be heard. The girls were gathered around the area where the door was thrown open. Kotone, Suzune, Kazane, Kohaku, Aoba, and even Shirokiyami were there. Leaving one exception, the girls had fallen down in surprise when Taiyou had suddenly opened the door.
「…What are you guys doing?」
「Erm, uhh…I was curious.」
「「「We thought it would come in handy.」」」
「To monitor mah daughter’s growth.」
「Collective behavior is…important impor, tant.」
Aoba answered with a faint voice, the disorganized sister trio actually answered in unison, Kohaku responded with a remark that was difficult to take seriously, and Shirokiyami was standing proudly without any prideful expression on her face for some reason.
Though there were a variety of interesting reactions, suddenly, the girls let a gasp escape their mouths. These were tiny, inaudible screams that could not be conveyed in words. There were some who were red-faced, and they were all focusing on one detail.
Taiyou realized what had happened as he asked. Fitting for the bathhouse, he was currently entirely naked, and the girls had their eyes focused on the…thing that was laying idle.
Aoba, who had not experienced something like this before, turned as red as a lobster and bolted away like a startled hare. Chasing after her, the three sisters and Kohaku also left the changing room. The remaining Shirokiyami unexpectedly pulled out a katana from her skirt.
The white blade poked out of the scabbard, making a “shing” noise.
「Put away your…hazardous, material.」
「How about you put away your hazardous material!」
Exclaiming loudly, he shut the door slam with all his might. Shaking off the girls, he returned to where Pochi was.
Having a change of heart, he sat in the bathhouse chair and had Pochi wash his back.
（Just a wash, it’s just a wash）
He repeatedly chanted in his heart with a Buddhist-like prayer. In fact, he felt as if he were about to slide into an “All Is Vanity” attitude.
「Heave-ho, heave ho」
Not comprehending in the slightest what was going on in his mind, Pochi made a hand towel sudsy and let out an sweet, enthusiastic voice as she began to scrub his shoulders.
「How is it?」
He bluntly answered.
Pochi put even more power into it. Impressed, Taiyou thought that was very commendable.
「I’m skilled at rinsing people’s backs. This is because I used to regularly do it to my master.」
「Master…as in Karina Nose-san. So you guys regularly went to the bathhouse?」
「Yes, we went every day.」
「I see. By the way, is it alright if I ask you what kind of person that Karina Nose-san was?」
「What kind of person Master was?」
Pochi’s perplexed presence transmitted from behind his back. Even so, the scrubbing rhythm of her hands showed no alteration. Taiyou gave her a helping hand.
「Seems like she was a pretty small person, right?」
「Yes, the same as my current Master.」
「And did you ever call her “Mom”?」
「I tried it a while ago, but it just didn’t feel right. I felt that Master was Master and no one else.」
Slightly nodding, he began to think. The title of “Master” didn’t seem to actually be forced on Pochi by Karina Nose, judging by what she said. Still having his back scrubbed by Pochi, Taiyou asked her various things about Karina Nose. Pochi answered each question faithfully after thinking earnestly each time. In the end, hearing mostly from a proud Pochi that she was doted on or that her relationship with Karina was quite close, he was able to reconfirm what the relationship between the two of them was like based also on Hanaeda’s stories and Karina Nose’s diary from before.
「Umm, Master is Master’s Master, right?」
Taiyou smiled bitterly.
――Master Taiyou is Master Kohaku’s Master-Husband.
Her statement would sound normal with an annotation, but if there were no annotation then her expression would sound very entangled. Of course, this was something that he could answer, so Taiyou distinctly nodded.
「And Master is also the Master of the other people as well, right?」
「Huh? Oh, you mean Aoba.」
He wasn’t able to immediately understand what she meant, so he answered after a short interval.
「Well yeah, that’s also correct. Shirokiyami, that goth loli…wait, do you even know what “goth loli” means?」
「Yes. Abbreviated from “Gothic and Lolita” , it is a fashion style unique to Japan that combines the usually different elements of gothic and lolita. And it is also a way of pointing out that subculture, right?」
「I didn’t expect an answer like that, but well, yeah. That goth loli clothed girl is the only exception, but also isn’t exactly an exception.」
「I see. Then should I call everyone “Master”?」
Taiyou fell into further confusion. This time he purposefully organized her words in his head and finally understood what she was trying to say. She was asking if people like the sister trio and Aoba who were in the same position as the master Kohaku should be called “Master”.
「No, you don’t have to. They’d get more and more confused if you called them that. And besides, you don’t really want to call them that, do you?」
「If it is Master’s order, then.」
Taiyou could tell that she was probably implicitly displeased with the idea.
「Then you don’t have to call them that. Just stick with calling only Kohaku “Master”.」
Pochi answered, putting more strength into rubbing his back.
「Master, I’ll wash you off with water, okay?」
As he nodded, Pochi reached out behind him for the looming showerhead. At that moment, he heard a cute voice of “Hyan!” and a wet slipping sound. The next moment, weight pressed against his back. At the same time, a squishy sound effect echoed throughout his head. A unprecedented sensation that he had never felt even once since the day that he was born. The sensation of having boobs pressed up against his back.
「S-Sorry Master! Are you hurt?」
About to say “fine”, he felt a tingling sensation surge through his back. He wasn’t sure why, but Taiyou felt like this was really bad. Without any particular reason, he felt that continuing on like this would be really bad. He halted the war-prepared objects with a forbidden move, then Pochi regained her posture, and with his back being washed, Taiyou was left imagining dirty things in his head until departing the open-air bath.
Once everyone’s tempers had completely settled down, Taiyou returned to the room where everyone was. For some reason, the room was even gloomier than earlier. The wives resembled how they were after their bath earlier, but one step more depressed. Not understanding what had occurred, Pochi was at the sidelines in bewilderment.
Taiyou inquired, predictably worried about their demeanor, but.
「Calling her a cow is going too far!」
Amongst the various statements uttered by the sister trio and Aoba, Taiyou thrusted into Aoba’s last statement. Nearby the distracted girls, Kohaku was gazing up at the moon from the windowsill. At a single glance she seemed to be composed, but…
「What are you looking at, Kohaku-san?」
「The moon, look, tonight is a splendid moon, hoho.」
「Yeah, you’re right.」
「Are ya familiar with the story about the moon’s appearance resembling a rabbit pounding mochi, Master-Husband?」
「I think so, yeah.」
「Perhaps if we could receive the rabbit’s luck, those things would become somewhat more levelled.」
Taiyou burst in with wrinkled eyebrows and a sigh.
「And wait, judging by your reaction, it sounds as if you saw the whole thing. You peeked in the end, didn’t you?」
「Nah, Master-Husband didn’t seem like he wanted to be seen, so I risked mah life tah stop the peeking.」
「It was worth risking your life for? Then why did――」
「I…read their presence and, experienced, it.」
「That’s seriously wasting your power! Wait, so why aren’t you shocked; you ran away when you were invited to the bathhouse earlier, didn’t you?」
「It’s because I…made sure to…divert, my. Eyes.」
「Your eyes have nothing to do with reading their presence!」
An unprecedented issue had arised with Pochi’s membership, and Taiyou was concerned for the future.