If I were to by any chance leave Pochi be and return home like this…
He imagined what would happen afterwards.
They would probably be able to live out their daily lives no differently than before. It hadn’t even been one week since meeting Pochi, and it wasn’t like they had become emotionally attached to each other.
Though she had called him “Master”, to Taiyou, despite almost being a stranger she was nothing but someone who he found to be allowable to tag along with him.
Even so, he could see himself regretting it if he were to abandon her kidnapped like this.
In a sense, it was something that didn’t have to be thought about.
Taiyou had cut her off only because he had prioritized the safety of the girls; the girls that he had to protect. If those girls were wishing for it…
「That’s right; we can’t leave that child alone.」
The sister trio and Aoba’s faces broke into smiles. These reactions practically told Taiyou that they were welcoming his answer from the bottom of their hearts. Seeing those girls’ reactions, Taiyou couldn’t surpress himself from giving a wry smile.
What are those reactions; aren’t they a little strange?
That’s what he thought, but swallowing those words, he kept their original meaning and reworded it.
「You ladies are great women; so much so that I’m unworthy of you.」
He said, and the girls simultaneously became red-faced.
「Well, if you really really try thinking about it, if we left things as they are now, I’m sure that we’d be severely scolded by Kohaku-san later on.」
Looking at the unconscious Kohaku, he smiled wryly for a different reason.
「Yeah, Kohaku-san seems like she’d be more angry.」
「Not so much angry as scolding, I’d say. Although in the case of this time, getting scolded would actually be more tough.」
「That’s different from getting angry?」
「A little, yeah.」
Thinking of the difference between the two, he gave yet another wry smile. The reason why he had been continuously smiling wryly was essentially because he thought that his options were screwed up.
In that case, he must make the right decision.
Once he decided, Taiyou thought to fly speedily to where Pochi was.
「Alright then; you all can do me a favor and wait here by Kohaku-san’s side. I’ll take back Pochi, okay?」
「Please wait, Taiyou-san.」
「We’ll contact Yami-chan right now, okay?」
「I think that it would be best to have her by your side.」
「No, I don’t need her.」
Taiyou instantly shot down the three sisters’ suggestions.
「Shirokiyami…I think that she probably won’t be of any use. Judging by her state. It’s for the best right now to not keep a useless human around.」
Taiyou purposefully said in a detached manner. The three sisters whom he had directed that towards were dejected but accepted what he said.
The girls had also seen Shirokiyami become unable to battle, so they seemed to understand what Taiyou was trying to say.
Gazing at the three sisters, he was thinking about Shirokiyami in his head.
He recalled what had happened prior to when she had become unable to move――prior to when she had become unable to fight.
（At that time…She said “big sis”, right? So that person was her elder sister?）
He replicated in his head the words and expressions of the girl who had appeared in front of Shirokiyami.
Certainly their countenances resembled each other, and they were similar enough to where he would believe it if someone told him that they were sisters. But those expressions were so cold that he couldn’t believe they were expressions aimed towards a younger sister.
（For household circumstances…I get the feeling that it’s too severe. Though it would be nice if I could follow up.）
Thinking that, he decided to pursue her next.
Right now, he was in a situation where he had to first think of Pochi.
Following that, he turned back in the direction of the door, making preparations for departure. That was when Aoba stopped him with a hoarse voice.
「Hmm? What’s wrong?」
「I’m sorry for…earlier.」
He inclined his head, wondering what she was talking about.
「You know…hitting Natsuno-kun’s head and all that.」
Taiyou slapped his hands together. Only after she had said that much to him had he remembered that that sort of thing had happened. There were men who would always mind being hit by women, and from Taiyou’s standpoint it was unfavorable for him, and yet he hadn’t paid it any heed.
Though it was something that he had remembered taking to heart, he had adjusted it in his heart to be something not worth apologizing for, so he hadn’t connected them initially.
「Don’t worry about it…If anything, I’m the one who should be sorry. Thinking about it carefully, those were the worst options for you after all. I even made a promise with you, and yet I was about to forget the essence of that promise.」
「No…it’s me who should be saying that. Even though Natsuno-kun was doing all that to protect us; even though what you did had to be right…」
「Deciding whether something is right or not is determined by what you decide to protect. If it was to protect your bodies and lives and whatnot, that was probably the right decision, but if we’re speaking in terms of protecting your hearts, those were probably the worst alternatives for you.」
He embraced Aoba who had tried to retort in order to quiet her down.
「Standing in this way embracing is the best with you, Aoba-san.」
Surprised, she widened her eyes to the point where the corners seemed like they would tear.
「People like Kohaku-san and Kazane are small, so placing them on my knees is also fine, but you’re the best for embracing in this fashion. When embracing you, Aoba, I can feel you more strongly than before. The realization that I’m hugging Aoba is just really reinforced.」
With a hoarse voice, she let out a voice overcome with emotion.
「Taiyou-san…What about me?」
Kotone asked. It was to be expected that of the three sisters, her physique resembling Aoba’s, that she would be concerned.
「With you, Kotone, when I close my eyes it feels more vague. Whether I’m hugging Kotone, whether I’m hugging Suzune, whether I’m hugging Kazane…it becomes questionable and I start to not feel sure. …And now I’m not even sure quite what I’m saying.」
Kotone strongly shook her head.
「That is, a happy thing, at least for us.」
She said, and Suzune and Kazane nodded their heads in the same manner.
「Is that so.」
A sweet air floated through the room.
It was because he had been told to do so, and it was also because Taiyou himself thought that he should do so.
He was not loving them on the same level…intentionally. In exchange, they were working hard to reach each of their respective best areas in comparison to other girls.
Not inferior in comparison; to show how they were superior in comparison.
And without concealing that, he disclosed it. To those who were superior, and also to those who were not.
He began thinking in that manner; that he should do thus.
「Now then, this time for sure――」
After a moment, Taiyou separated from Aoba. It felt like slipping out of a warm futon in the wintertime; a painful reluctance.
While doing so, he tried imaging in his head what Anna would…what sort of actions a person from Juunishima might take, and places where they might go.
Establishing several ideas, he decided on an exhaustive search.
「I have arrived!」
Hera appeared, having warped there. Along with that, she had a bright and clear, innocent voice that seemed to blow all of the remaining sweet air away at once.
「Hera! Where have you been up until now?」
「Heheheh, oh I’ve been somewhere all right.」
「What’s up with that elated face of yours?」
「Taiyou-chan, do you want to know where I’ve been up until now? You want to know, right?」
「No I’m fine; right now isn’t the time after all.」
Taiyou bluntly thrust her question aside. Walking at a brisk pace from there, he headed toward the door.
「You must wait; Taiyou-chan, just wait a minute. You’ll really regret it if you don’t listen to what your elders and fairies have to sayー」
「Although I feel like listening is what would bring me regret.」
Taiyou recalled the number of exchanges they had done until now.
Hera and Kohaku were of a similar type, and the contents of their exchanges and the foundation of their information were also in close resemblance. What was different was that Kohaku could read the air, while Taiyou thought that Hera couldn’t.
Which was why he attempted to ignore Hera in this urgent state of affairs, but…
「「「Taiyou-san! Please listen to her.」」」
For some reason, the sister trio took Hera’s side. The surprised Taiyou halted, then mutually compared them with each other.
「What do you mean by this?」
「We requested her.」
「To stick with Pochi-chan.」
This time it was Suzune.
「If it’s Hera’s tracking, then you definitely wouldn’t get found out.」
Kazane said finally, and the three sisters meaningfully grinned.
Further surprised, Taiyou became dumbfounded.
Like a robot in disrepair, with his movement letting out a “gigigi” sound, he turned toward Hera.
「That’s right! I flew here from where Pochi-chan was. No one can see me anyway, and I can return back to Taiyou-chan in a flash.」