「You gotta do itー, and I mean do it as in violate herー」
Hera whispered in his ears, following him around like a small insect. Based on her elated expression and tone of voice, she was like a demon that had just defeated an arch-nemesis angel. There was in fact no angel there, but he didn’t hesitate. Used to this, Taiyou hit her, striking her into the ground. Also used to this, she powerfully bounded up and flew back to him.
「Hey, what are you doing?」
Grabbing the protesting fairy by the nape of the neck, he moved her in front of his eyes.
「What are you doing?」
「I’m just reminding Taiyou-chan about what he’s forgetting to do, okay? Now then, hurry up and kiss Pochi-chan, and then I’ll do what needs to be done with her.」
「It’s not that I forgot; I purposefully chose not to, okay? And what do you mean by “doing what needs to be done”?」
He shot a question back at her with cold eyes. He looked at her this way because she had said that Hera and Pochi, who had no way of contacting each other, had to accomplish something together, which sounded ridiculous.
Ultimately, it was exactly what Taiyou had thought.
「Playing ball, taking a stroll around the river beach――」
「Do you seriously intend to treat her like a dog!?」
「I promise it’ll be fun, okay?」
「For you, maybe.」
He said as he tried to hit her back down. She had nimbly dodged said attack, so in order to follow up with another attack――much like driving away a fly in front of one’s face, he waved his hands in a fluttering motion. Unable to see Hera, Pochi quizzically inquired.
「What are you doing, Master?」
「Eh? Oh, uhh, hmm…you know, shadow boxing!」
While thinking about how hard this was for him, he waved his hands frantically and made an excuse.
「Shadow boxing. Dodging an attack from an imaginary enemy while throwing a punch and so on; the process of moving by oneself to create attacks.」
After she had recited the usual dictionary information, Pochi made a content face.
「So that’s what you were doing!」
「Oh, so you accepted the explanation…」
「What a good girl…you are.」
Hera pretended to be moved to tears.
Pochi raised her voice. He initially thought that she had called him, but he realized that her gaze was actually focused behind him.
Kohaku came up behind him. Kohaku was smiling, but with earnest eyes. These were not the eyes of her usual jokes or jests, but rather the kind of face she would make when having serious discussions.
「Listen Pochi, I’m going tah be speaking with Husband right now. So be quiet and listen without getting in tha way.」
Nodding vigorously, she sealed her mouth with both of her hands. As usual, this was a rather childlike and adorable mannerism. Looking at her and nodding satisfactorily, she turned back to Taiyou.
「My Husband, I’ve heard the story.」
「Indeed; the argument between Husband and Hera. I am of the same opinion as Hera; I think that it would be best for you to kiss this girl soon.」
「Why are you refusing her in the first place, Husband?」
Taiyou hesitated. Now that he thought about it, even he wasn’t so sure why he had been rejecting her. There wasn’t exactly any reason; he had just partly refused her by spinal reflex.
「Is it that you resent the fact that I took in Pochi?」
「No, not that.」
Promptly responding, he shook his head. He didn’t have the answer as to why he rejected her, but he did have some composed ideas as to why.
「I think that you should do as you please, Kohaku-san. There’s no reason to oppose your decisions.」
「Then that’s even more reason tah kiss her. Living under the same roof and not being able tah even have a conversation about the unseen is inconvenient.」
「That’s true, but…」
「Or do ya perhaps have another idea? If there’s a better method then I’m all ears.」
Taiyou parroted back in a flat tone.
He soon opened his eyes wide, astonished.
Objective, and method.
He was ordinarily the type of human to distinctly separate those two things. The most important thing was to fulfill the objective, and the methods were pliable――to rephrase, he was the type of human that would use any means at his disposal.
He had come this far doing that very thing. Others had said that very thing about him, and even he thought in that fashion about himself. To relate this to the current conversation, the objective was for Pochi and Hera to both be able to recognize and converse with each other. And there was only one method, which was for Taiyou and Pochi to kiss.
The previous him wouldn’t have refused. After all, if there was only one solution, then no matter how much he worried or refused, in the end it all came down to the same thing.
That’s why he was surprised. Why he hadn’t done that immediately, and why he had continuously refused this time around. So he thought carefully about yesterday.
Taiyou Castle was broken, they made it to this hot spring area with Kohaku’s driving, met with Pochi, and took her in. He carefully recalled that string of events.
And when he did so, he realized something.
Something very dull and laughable that made him want to be knocked down.
Snorting, he lifted a smile of self-depreciation onto his face.
「What’s wrong, eh Husband?」
「No, I just thought that I really am an idiot.」
「What do you mean, Taiyou-chan?」
「For having pointless pride, you know.」
Kohaku made an understanding face after a moment. Gazing at each other briefly, Taiyou felt that her eyes that had endured many years could see through everything.
――Maybe I really should have realized that.
――No, Kohaku-san, you did nothing wrong. Bad things only came about because of my pride.
――The pride of a main provider may very well be a necessary thing.
――If the main provider were of a higher caliber.
They gave that exchange in an instant just by exchanging their gaze. That’s all it took to convey the information both to the sender and the receiver. Feeling that way about it, both Taiyou and Kohaku were satisfied.
Or at least they were, but someone who didn’t understand was nearby.
「Eh? Kohaku-tan, you got all that?」
「Yeah, even I have to do some soul-searching.」
「It’s my fault for not properly separating the objective and the method. There’s no blame on you, Kohaku-san.」
「Then how about declaring this a draw? We each take care from now on.」
Taiyou and Kohaku nodded to each other when saying that. And Hera had a gibberish look on her face as usual.
「I really don’t understand what Taiyou-chan or Kohaku-tan are saying.」
「But Taiyou-chan looks happy, so I won’t complain.」
「You’re amazing in your own way.」
「Well of course, as I am here for Taiyou-chan’s benefit.」
A highly versatile phrase. Thinking that, Taiyou laughed, and the other two women lifted the corners of their mouths up into smiles, laughing.
After the three of them had laughed at each other for some time, Kohaku called out to Pochi in the car.
「Pochi dear, get out of the car.」
Pochi obediently answered her call, opened the door, and got out from the car. She walked to where Kohaku was.
It all happened in an instant.
In under a split second; in an amount of time faster than the human sense could pursue. This was made possible by tagging along with Shirokiyami――getting accumulated to bloodlust.
Sensing the impending danger quicker than anyone else, Taiyou yelled loudly and stepped in front of the girls to protect them.
The sound of gunfire echoing, and something aimed at Taiyou, flying toward him in succession. Those things hit his body, which ignored the laws of physics, sending them powerlessly to the ground.
The lead bullets fell trickling onto the earth.
「W-What is it?」
In response to the quick turn of events, Kohaku’s voice sounded out, losing her composure for once. On the other side of things, Taiyou was also taken aback, but with the Long-Distance Nullification skill and the experience from fighting with Shirokiyami, he was comparatively calmer.
「Please don’t move, Kohaku-san. You’ll be safe if you stick behind me.」
He could sense someone taking a deep breath behind him. Being as amazing as she always was, Kohaku had swiftly recovered and was attempting to regain a sense of composure.
That was soon shaken by yet another grand-scale impact. Something exploded in front of them. Not an impact, but a flash-emitting explosion.
Momentarily disoriented, Taiyou looked back and hugged Kohaku closely so as to protect her. That way, he could protect her no matter what happened. He made various predictions, simulating how to deal with them in his head. But no matter how much time passed, nothing came their way. Still embracing Kohaku, sight gradually returned.
Overhearing the racket, the sister trio and Aoba emerged from the shop, protected by Shirokiyami.
「Taiyou-chan! Pochi-chan isn’t here.」
Hearing Hera’s words, all present were in astonishment.