「This is impressive…」
Taiyou’s eyes opened wide upon entering the guest cabin.
He was in the ferry that connected Honshu and Juunishima. As if the consumers were numerous, the periodic operating service alone sent out two rides per hour, and the vessels used were fittingly termed luxury cruise ships.
As if Mio had arranged for this in advance, as soon as they arrived at the port they got into a ship and were guided to the guest cabin on the highest floor of the six-floor construct. The room was of a simple making to be sure, but it possessed a wideness of up to twenty tatami mats and was furnished with two single beds as well as a sofa table, and even a television.
Until coming here, everything that he had caught sight of were 「seats」, and Taiyou was surprised by this.
「Is it really here, Mio-san?」
「Yes; it will be a sea voyage that requires time as it is, so I arranged it so that Aoba-sama could at the very least spend time here in an agreeable manner.」
「Requires time as it is…how long will it take to reach the island?」
「It will be about five hours for a one-way trip.」
「And so we have this room…」
Taiyou thought that was honestly overdoing it.
Five hours for a one-way trip was not by any means a short amount of time, but at the same time, a room like this…it wasn’t the appropriate length of time for preparing a room of such agreeable lodging.
He honestly thought that the reclining seats one floor below were enough.
However, it seemed that this was not the case for Mio.
「I will brew tea. Aoba-sama, what would you like?」
「Is there white? I’d like to enjoy Okaa-sama’s white tea after such a long time.」
「Wait just a minute.」
「Oh, I’d like――」
「How about coffee, Natsuno-sama?」
Mio spoke up with a sensation of cutting him off. Taiyou unthinkingly became overwhelmed by her timing of intercepting with a hard voice.
「Ah, yeah…coffee’s fine too.」
He was also fine with coffee, so Taiyou had no choice but to nod.
Mio, who had received the two orders, pulled out from her luggage tools and leaves and such, and took out things like powder, proceeding to head to a corner of the room. Using the outlet there, she heated the hot water and, with a professional manner of using her hands and complex procedures she began to brew it.
「Okaa-sama’s tea is super good.」
Aoba said in a boastful manner as she came to his side.
「Is that so?」
「Yep! Her cooking is also tasty, but the tea that she brews is even more tasty. When Father and the mothers are all gathered on a typical weekend day, they end up drinking more than ten cups.」
「Ten whole cups?」
Taiyou was perplexed.
「Yes. One cup for a good morning greeting, one cup before noon to accelerate appetite, one cup to help with digestion after eating. One cup to assist with falling asleep for afternoon napping――With that feel, they spend their weekends in that fashion drinking tea all the time.」
「Wow, that’s impressive. If they drink in that manner for all kinds of purposes, does that mean they drink various types of tea? I’m not very informed about tea, but I know about things like black oolong tea for removing oil; that sort of stuff.」
「Yeah, there are various types, but I also don’t know very much. Okaa-sama is super knowledgeable in that area, so maybe you could try asking her afterward?」
「Right; I guess I’ll try asking when Kotone and the others are around. I think I wouldn’t mind having them learn various things and even at our place 『allot a cup to something』 in that fashion.」
Aoba raised her voice. For some reason, her face was flushed with embarrassment.
「Do you do the same thing, with your father and the others?」
「Yeah; is something about that unpleasant?」
「No, it’s not, but…」
Aoba said as she intertwined her fingers, fidgeting. It was clear that something was up.
Curious, Taiyou pursued that, wondering what was weird about the conversation.
「I won’t do it if it’s unpleasant.」
「No, it’s not that, it’s not that…umm, you see.」
「This is a special rule of the Miki household…along with drinking tea, there’s something that you do.」
「Something that you do?」
Taiyou gazed in wonderment. He took a long hard look at Aoba, wondering what she had suddenly brought up.
「You see, Father and the rest kiss when they drink tea. Umm…when getting seconds they kiss Father, and then they ask Okaa-sama for seconds.」
「What are they, newly-weds!」
He quipped, and one of the people in question brewing the tea in a remote location looked over their shoulder. It was clear that she could hear Taiyou and Aoba’s exchange, and her cold eyes looked a bit different than usual, as if asking「Got a problem with that?」.
「Hey, Natsuno-kun. So do you…also do that at your house?」
「That, seconds rule. Do you follow that very rule?」
Taiyou was at a loss for words.
It was embarrassing; extremely embarrassing.
Aoba with a red face and a slightly upward gaze, embarrassed yet making a proposition, as well as this situation. It was like the sweet and sour taste of shoving a whole citrus fruit into one’s mouth.
In order to answer that with a straight face, Taiyou still didn’t quite…have the right state.
He avoided her gaze for a short while, thereafter evading the topic.
「D, did you do it too?」
「The seconds kiss…did you do it to your dad too?」
「I, I haven’t done it, haven’t done it! I definitely wouldn’t do that sort of thing!」
「Ah, but…I guess I did it to the cheeks when I was little.」
「Yeah, you know. It’s the sort of time that you’d hear『When you become an adult you’ll be Daddy’s brideー』. My mothers always said that it wasn’t fair, saying “Me too, me tooー”.」
While saying that, as if remembering her childhood, Aoba’s embarrassment gradually sunk, and a grin made its way onto her face instead.
That was when Mio returned to where they were with a tray holding two teacups.
「I have kept you waiting. Aoba also said these sorts of things when she was young, like『Mama is my lifetime rival』.」
「Honestly! Okaa-sama, don’t bring up things from that past like that.」
Though she said it resentfully, Aoba was definitely the embodiment of a good mood. She took the teacup from Mio, putting it to her mouth.
「Yeah, Okaa-sama’s white is definitely delicious. Try some too, Natsuno-kun.」
「What’s wrong, Natsuno-kun?」
Aoba questioned Taiyou, who was spacing out and not taking the coffee.
「……Come to think of it, Master and Aoba-sama bathed together until she was twelve.」
「Seriously! Okaa-sama, you really didn’t have to say that now.」
「You said that your favorite Valentine chocolate was the “true sentiment chocolate” up until middle school.」
「Well yeah, that was because there weren’t any other people to give them to.」
「And for Christmas presents, you didn’t want anything physical, but rather, the night skyline; there was that year as well.」
「That was definitely due to being influenced by manga. Father got carried away and lastly took out the room keys, so he got disciplined by Mama and the others.」
「Those were good times.」
「True. Huh, Natsuno-kun…You’re still stiff, what’s really the matter?」
Repeating in delirium, Taiyou muttered several keywords. Aoba initially inclined her head wondering what was wrong, but as if she had realized, her face shone with vitality.
「Natsuno-kun…Could it be」
「Not at all! I’m not jealous at――」
Once he was about to say it, Taiyou suddenly sealed his mouth with both hands.
「He’s attempting to quit while he’s ahead.」
Mio said with an exasperated face. Self-destructing by saying something without even being asked, and the actions of nonverbally heightening the attention to it by sealing one’s mouth.
This was a blunder very unlike him, and it was quite right that Mio looked exasperated.
Looking at Taiyou in that state, Aoba got in a good mood, though embarrassed. It seemed she was quite happy that he was jealous.
As if trying to gloss it over, Taiyou coughed and accepted the teacup from the tray that Mio was holding.
Upon putting the coffee to his mouth, he was taken aback in another way.
「I am obliged.」
「This is amazing; to think that you not only brew tea but you also brew coffee this tastily. This is honestly delicious enough to where it makes me question what I’ve been drinking all this time.」
「What brand is that, Okaa-sama?」
Aoba asked, and Taiyou also directed a face full of curiosity toward Mio. There was of course the way it was brewed, but he was also curious about the brand of coffee that he had just tasted; the true form of the beans used.
「It is Kopi・Luwak.」
「Ohhh, you brought something amazing with you.」
From Aoba’s admiration and that favorable nuance, he could tell that this was unmistakably a good thing.
He lifted the coffee to his mouth once more. It somehow tasted even better than earlier.
That was when Mio quietly opened her mouth.
「Made from cat feces.」
As soon as he heard Mio say that, he spewed it out magnificently.