「Ah, such a waste…」
After spewing it out, Taiyou had protested saying in a loud voice「What did you make me drink!?」, but he swallowed those words with Aoba’s murmuring. No joke or irony, she seriously seemed to think it was「a waste」.
Bewildered, Taiyou wondered what she meant.
「When you say that it’s a waste, you mean this?」
「Yeah, that’s a really expensive coffee. Right, Okaa-sama?」
「It is as you say. It depends on the substance, but perhaps you could view it as approximately ten thousand yen for one cup.」
Taiyou became perplexed in yet another sense of the word. He had not so much as thought that this thing was ten thousand yen for a cup.
「Are you sure?」
「I no longer tell lies to Aoba-sama.」
Repressing the urge to ask “But it’s okay to just lie to me?”, Taiyou fixedly stared at the the cup’s contents. Upon hearing that it was ten thousand yen for one cup, oddly enough, it now seemed to be glowing a gold color to his eyes.
「But, what you said earlier…」
「Uhh…what was it again, Okaa-sama?」
「From the cat known as the civet.」
Asked by a gazing Aoba, Mio began speaking with a calm voice.
「This brand, Kopi Luwak, is composed of processed indigested coffee beans taken from the civet’s excrements. I say indigested, but what I mean is that a fermentation that is naturally impossible to occur via enzymes actually occurs in the civet’s body, becoming this refreshing flavor of coffee.」
「Certainly…it’s refreshing and really good, but…」
Taiyou gave off a sour face.
The flavor of the coffee itself was excellent. The tasty coffee had a refreshing and invigorating flavor, and it was enough to make one think “Oh, there might very well be enough value in this for its price”.
There was no issue with the taste, but hearing about the manufacturing process just made him lose his nerve.
「Was it unagreeable with your mouth?」
Mio asked as he was staring down the inside of the cup.
「N, no, that’s not it, uhh…」
「If it was not agreeable, I could swap it with a different brand…?」
「Uhh, yeah…that would be great if you would.」
「Then, something like black ivory.」
「You brought that too?」
Aoba became even more surprised.
「You know what that is, Aoba?」
「Yeah, it’s a coffee that’s even more expensive than this one. I haven’t even had the privilege of drinking it more than once or so.」
「By the way, this is as its name suggests. It is coffee made from beans assembled from an elephant’s excrements!」
「Feces again!? Isn’t there something else?」
「If you would be fine with something like monkey coffee or tanuki coffee.」
「No, I think I’m done with that genre!」
Taiyou quipped in a loud voice.
Leaving the two women in the guest cabin, Taiyou went out on deck alone. The ship was already in the middle of the ocean, where there was nothing but sea for three hundred sixty degrees all around.
Beginning with the coffee affair, Taiyou confirmed that Mio was harassing him. And to make things worse, these were all mental attacks.
Just like the coffee made from cat feces; just like how though it was unmistakably a high-grade product, she had purposefully chosen those to treat him in a mental way, Mio was unleashing the next attack after the next attack in a way that made it impossible for Taiyou to complain.
There were four hours remaining until arrival at the island, and he couldn’t keep his cool like this, so that was why Taiyou had escaped out on deck.
「Phew…Well I mean, if I were to think of it as a type of jealousy then I’d have no choice but to put up with it, but still…」
No matter what was done to him, Taiyou didn’t hold the slightest bit of ill will toward Mio.
Even an onlooker would be able to tell that Mio was doting on Aoba; meanwhile Taiyou was the man who had stolen Aoba away. If one were to think of the harassment toward the man, the son-in-law who had taken away her beloved daughter, this type of intricate pestering was actually possibly charming.
Muttering, Taiyou sent his senses to the fairy who was undoubtedly far away. Promptly, Hera appeared in front of his eyes.
「Did you call me, Taiyou-chanー?」
「Yeah, is everything okay over there?」
「Yes indeed, it’s okay. We’re actually having a banquet in the car right now.」
「It’s still daytime, you realize.」
And though he said that, when he imagined the scene of the girls gathered jabbering about in the motor home that he had seen earlier, he gave a broad smile without thinking.
「But but it’s really livelyー. Everyone’s roused up with common topics.」
「What the heck do you mean by common topics?」
「Topics about what part of Taiyou that we came to like.」
「Wha, you guys-」
「Incidentally, when I said that I’m here as myself only for Taiyou’s sake, Pochi’s face looked terribly envious at me.」
「How does that make anyone envious!?」
「Because it’s fate.」
「Seriously, why do you feel the need to say good lines so wastefully?」
「Yeah, it’s fine. You don’t have to say it.」
「Whaaaaat? It’s a wonderful reason; if Taiyou-chan hears it then he’ll grow to love Kohaku-tan even more, you know?」
Hera protested. She seemed to want to let out something quite good.
But hearing that, Taiyou began to feel more and more like he mustn’t hear it.
「I don’t want to hear that from your mouth; I want to hear it directly from theirs.」
Hera slapped her hands together.
「That is very true! You do want to hear it directly from the person’s mouth, huh?」
「I understand; then zip goes my mouth. Until the actual person says it I won’t say it even at my perilー」
「It’s over; you just normally don’t chatter about it any further.」
「Right you are.」
「So, the reason I called you out here was because I was thinking to ask you about the next level. What must I do to rise to Level 13?」
「You’re going to do that here?」
「Yeah, ‘cause Aoba’s coming with me. As a precaution, I’d like to attach further power to myself.」
「I understand; then take out your smartphone, Taiyou-chan.」
Just as he was told, Taiyou took out his smartphone and listened to Hera’s explanation.
Aoba came out from the guest cabin, and upon entering the deck she quickly found Taiyou, but she also found Hera’s figure at his side simultaneously.
Upon realizing that Hera was there, she turned back once toward the guest cabin, but there was no trace of Mio tagging along, so Aoba relievedly walked up to the two of them.
「Ooo, it has been a while.」
「It hasn’t even been half a day since we parted…」
Aoba smiled wryly, looking at Taiyou. As if he hadn’t even noticed her presence, he was messing with his smartphone, lifted up his head, and didn’t even respond.
「What is Natsuno-kun doing?」
「He’s raising his level; next up is 13.」
「He’s doing it here?」
「Of course he is; after all――」
About to say something, Hera instead sealed her mouth with her own hand.
「What’s the matter?」
「What do you mean by nothing; you just said “after all”.」
「You should hear that from the person themselves; if I say it then it’s no good.」
「? I don’t really understand, but okay then.」
Though puzzled, Aoba accepted the explanation satisfactorily.
She then looked once again at Taiyou.
His gaze fallen on the smartphone while operating it in repetition with his fingers, his face in profile was the very definition of earnest. His gaze on the smartphone, he was staring at it straightforwardly almost as if piercing through it, working wholeheartedly on raising his level.
Looking at his face, Aoba’s heart skipped a beat.
Her heart felt a thrill as she looked at the face of the man who was pushing forward in a straight line facing in front of him.
Her heart beat fast, throbbing.
Like an insect lured into a light trap, she unsteadily crept her face closer, kissing Taiyou’s cheek with a smooch.
Hera exclaimed in admiration as Aoba’s lips began to separate from him.
He had been kissed, and yet there was no change from within Taiyou. He was continuing his levelling up with a level of concentration that prevented him from even realizing that he had been kissed.
「He’s really serious…」
「Yeah, that he is.」
「I’m sort of jealous.」
Aoba made a face that was almost laughing and almost embarrassed.