「Wh-What are you doing letting out such a loud voice」
Youran said, flustered. She appeared to be shaken by Taiyou’s unusual reaction.
「Cause short cutting means that you’ll cut your hair right. That long hair」
「That’s no good！」
Taiyou cut her off once again with a loud voice.
The first time she was surprised, but Youran adjusted to it enough for the second time.
Regaining her composure, she objected to Taiyou with a glare.
「But that’s up to me. You don’t have the right to criticize me」
「You’re seriously going to cut it no matter what」
「I’ll cut it, I’ll show you me cutting it」
The two of them glared at one another, neither yielding.
「……You’re going『to show』him you cutting it, eh」
Hera’s murmur didn’t so much as reach their ears.
「Alright, if you insist on cutting it then――Do it after you defeat me」
「Now come at me！」
「Ooo, looking cool, Taiyou-chan」
Hera clapped with her eyes wide open. As before, that line didn’t reach their ears.
「Are you stupid！Why should I have to do all that just to cut my own hair！」
「No use arguing！」
「I didn’t need questions or answers in the first place！」
They said glaring at each other.
It was concerning her so of course Youran, and Taiyou as well, had no intention of yielding.
In his mind, when he thought of Youran it was with twintails, along with an image of long hair he’d take millions of measures to keep intact.
Just like a space emperor dancing around shooting beams from right to left, the idea of her doing a short-cut birthed both discomfort and interest.
Youran was beautiful, or at least to Taiyou.
That little bit of interest was something unnecessary.
That was how they went about glaring at each other. As if raising tension to a ridiculous level had bore fruit, Taiyou won in their fight of stubborness, Youran being the one to break.
She breathed a sigh.
「Haah, okay I get it. I won’t cut it, sheesh」
Taiyou’s eyes sparkled. Seeing that reaction of his, Youran was pulled in another sense of the word compared to earlier.
But that soon shifted to exasperation and resignation.
「Really. Just go ahead and pull them as much as you want」
「Is it actually okay？」
「I’ve already given up. I can’t stop you after all. However」
She glared sharply at Taiyou.
「No more suddenly doing it. You have ridiculous strength so when you suddenly do it my neck hurts. Mess up and it’ll be torn off」
「Right, it would be bad after all if your hair came off. They do say that hair is a woman’s lifeline」
「Not that! I’m talking about my freaking neck！」
「Oh, you meant that」
「Then, can I pull them right now」
Youran’s voice cracked. She seemed to not believe what she was hearing.
「……Haah, do what you want then？」
After a sigh, she averted her face. Turning back to the ocean, she fully exposed her back to Taiyou.
Perhaps because of what had happened earlier, Taiyou timidly touched her twintails, grabbing both, and gently pulled on them.
Rather than pulling them, his handwork was that of admiration.
Handiwork like that of someone handling a just-born infant, treating something fragile.
A voice leaked out of Youran’s mouth.
「S-Sorry. Was it too strong」
「……The contrary, go a bit stronger」
「Huh, I can really go stronger？」
「That would be better than the last one yeah」
Youran said. Looking closely, the bases of her ears had become red.
Thinking that he had instead angered her by being too weak, he adjusted his power, pulling on them once again.
Being straightforward for the third time.
Her neck didn’t move……He pulled with a strength that was neither too strong nor too weak.
Enveloped by the sound of the waves, Taiyou pulled both strands of twintails, and Youran let him do as he pleased.
A bizarre space, yet an atmosphere that wasn’t half bad.
Taiyou did that to her, enough to forget about that time.
Youran suddenly opened her mouth. This was unusual for her……It was a graceful tone unlike that of Youran or New Moon Director.
The question of what had happened to her was soon cleared.
「So you’re going to make Letii your bride？」
It was the kind of tone for the sake of one’s friend.
Understanding that, Taiyou faced her question with earnestness.
「Why did you just stop talking? You’re not going to seriously tell me you don’t intend to take responsibility, right」
「Ahh no, I was just hesitating about which way I should answer」
「You should have been there」
He gave a preface, bringing up a topic out of the blue.
「Yes, the time when you infiltrated the research institute to steal data, those were the words that I said to Kohaku-san when she was next to you」
Thinking a bit, she then gave a start.
She had indeed remembered that time.
「Henceforth, whenever I increase my women……my brides, I’d like to do so with the consensus of everyone. That’s what I said to Kohaku, and I had her wait there for the time being」
「You certainly……did say that」
「Those feelings have still not changed. With Aoba there were circumstances and it ended up being a bit different, but even from now on……No, always from now on, I’m thinking to maintain that principle」
「So if it were only up to my feelings then I could actually say I’ll take responsibility, but I don’t know what the three sisters Kotone, Suzune, and Kazane as well as Kohaku-san; what all of them would say, as they’re not here. In that sense I can’t give an immediate answer. Which is why I’ve stopped talking」
「I see, so you were trying to protect that」
Still with her back to him, Youran’s voice became even softer.
Her reaction was due to her understanding that that he was at the very least not irresponsibly thinking about her best friend that way.
Taiyou took it as that, so as a matter of course, even though she immediately grew silent after that together with him, the environment wasn’t unpleasant in the slightest.
She was at the very least content, and would not be jumping to any conclusions anytime soon.
With that, the air had become peaceful.
In that atmosphere, Taiyou continued to touch the twintails, and she continued to allow that.
While tugging on her twintails, he continued to stare at her from behind.
Even at a time like this, her posture was straight like she had swallowed a pole.
Taiyou confirmed once again that he liked that.
「What can I do for you」
Looking over her shoulders, her eyes were asking「The heck are you saying？」.
「I came to this island for Pochi’s……or as you call her, Adashino’s sake. The objective was to make it so that she could live a life under Kohaku-san’s care. But I was wrapped up in various things, did various things, and now here I am」
「Yes, there really was a lot」
「But if I think carefully about it, your problem is more serious. I mean, I still don’t have the full picture but……Ever since I was awake a lot has happened……I don’t know everything, but I can at least tell that your problem is more severe. What can I do for you in a situation like that？」
「You’re talking about lending me your aid？」
Various things rushed about the back of Taiyou’s head.
The girls who weren’t here.
The man he had just seen off.
And the girl in front of him.
「I might just like looking at you from behind」
It was a phrase like a confession, but Youran listened carefull to his words without losing her composure.
「I pointed it out the first time I met you, your back――Your pin-like straightened-out spine, I like the posture you make with that. It became this way because you were at that place, right」
「If that’s the case, I want to do something for the sake of that」
「You’ll go through peril」
「Something like that isn’t even worth mentioning」
The image of that man went across the back of his mind.
「……Are you being serious when you say that？」
Taiyou clearly nodded. When he did so, Youran nodded as well, softly brushing away Taiyou’s hands. Her twintails slipped through the palms of his hands. Right after, she had undone her hair.
Spreading out, the long hair enveloped her entire body.
The atmosphere had changed.
Shortly afterward, she spoke with her back facing him.
「My name is Juunishima New Moon Director Youran」
「……I thank you for your support」
While still noble, the air that had shifted had left a tinge of softness, which was something he had never felt before.