「You almost tricked me there, dammit」
They were in the infirmary, where he had laid Leticia on a bed. Taiyou and Youran were on opposite sides facing each other.
After that, Taiyou had carried the unconscious Leticia over here rather than kiss her.
Kohaku and Hera had gone on ahead, so they weren’t here.
Smiling bitterly, Taiyou spoke to Youran.
「What could you be talking about？」
「Don’t play dumb. There wasn’t any darn reason to kiss there! It’s not like Leticia’s issue is something that needs to be resolved immediately. Nothing wrong with waking her up here」
「But c’mon, wouldn’t it be more romantic to do it over there？」
「I dunno about that」
Taiyou said, looking at Leticia.
「Come to think of it, I wonder why she suddenly fell down again. She wasn’t like this at all as of late, so I was even wondering if she might be alright from now on」
「It’d be cool if there were some sort of omen, but I guess that’s too much to ask for」
「Yeah, you’d know if you’d ask this girl’s father. It’s just that you need her father to acknowledge you. Cause it seems to be quite the secret」
「You don’t know either？」
「All I know is that there’s something to it」
Taiyou nodded, convinced.
Leticia, third princess of the kingdom. Taiyou wouldn’t be surprised if it were a state secret. If anything, it was obvious that Youran wouldn’t know anything about it.
So he briefly forgot about that, asking Youran something he was curious about.
「So what’s your objective？」
「What do you mean what?」
「You’re the same as me. You tend not to take methods that don’t impact your objective」
「Your urging me earlier was earnest. You fully intended to have me and Leticia kiss there. So what would you accomplish by doing that？」
「You really irritate me」
「We’re so alike that we hate each other――how many times have we done this？ Oh, by the way, I like ya」
「Like minds gather――Wow, that doesn’t make me happy in the slightest」
Taiyou pursued as if telling her that he wouldn’t allow her to be vague.
「Didn’t I tell you before?」
Youran said placidly with a blank face.
「Said I’d make her your slave」
「……Were you actually serious」
「Probably gonna catch on again, so I’ll tell you this right now: I was half joking when I said it, but after that I took it seriously」
「And even then you were half-serious, huh」
「Cause there was some meaning in saying it like that」
「And the reason why you became serious？」
「Cause this gal’s stubborn」
Taiyou nodded. He didn’t know the full course of events, but judging from how things had been going, he couldn’t help but get it.
He could understand it in terms of stubborn people needing drastic measures. And in this case, there wasn’t much need to understand the particulars.
「Drastic measures, eh」
「Is it really okay to ignore her feelings？」
「Even I were to say it she’d just come at me loaded with logic. This gal’s smart after all」
「And is that like-minds hate each other? Or like-minds gather？」
「Umm, I really don’t like that play on words you’re doing」
She glared at him.
She had always said those things after they met.
「But it’s not a play on words. Just two choices. You really are like her. Then how about this: do ya like her or hate her」
「……And what do you plan to do with that information？」
「I won’t tell anyone. Not even her」
Not answering the question, he nevertheless managed to push her into a corner.
After a bit of silence drifted between them…
「I like her so much that I hate her」
「Hey, now you’re the one playing with words」
「But yeah, I do somewhat understand」
Youran was pouting, turning the other way with her lips pursed.
Even from Taiyou’s viewpoint, it was very clear that she had some complicated feelings spiralling around within her.
Of course it wasn’t like they were romantic feelings, so if anything, he imagined it to be even more complicated.
「Now I really wanna know your guys’ past」
「Just in case, let me ask you: What you two have between you isn’t “romance”, right」
「How many times you gonna ask? Of course not」
「And what about her？」
「Like I’d know that……Although I don’t think so」
「Then, I’d say I wanna know」
「What are you even getting at」
「You don’t know？」
Youran fell utterly silent. She was logical and sharp enough for you to hate her. She seemed to realize where Taiyou was coming from quickly.
Two females who did not possess『romantic feelings』between each other, but rather, best friends who strongly cared for each other.
It wasn’t difficult to imagine that in their history together, there would be some memories shared only between them.
Taiyou wanted to know about that.
He was earnest about getting to know both of them.
「But I could care less about that, so hurry up and kiss her」
「Yeah, but before that, I thought of something I wanna do first」
「Something you wanna do？」
「Yeah. The whole drastic treatment for a stubborn girl thing」
「Then do it」
Youran made a questioning face.
It was clear that she was misunderstanding, but Taiyou didn’t point that out.
Instead, he pulled Youran’s hand, pushing her down onto the bed next to where Leticia was sleeping.
He kissed her.
Not Leticia, but Youran.
It was a forceful kiss where he stole her lips.
Youran squirmed, resisting against this sudden barbarous act.
She hit his chest with her hands, kicking and struggling.
While those were reasonable things to do, her resisting wasn’t doing anything.
There was the youth who had raised his level to harness the power to break boulders and even lift up cars, then there was the dainty girl who was as she looked.
Resistance was utterly futile.
Youran had no choice but to let him act.
After a bit, slender hands began hitting Taiyou’s shoulders.
This was a reaction different than the original one.
This was not resistance, but petition.
He could feel her desperately trying to take in something from their connected mouths.
Seeking oxygen, she was inhaling.
Her breathing had become rough after constantly having been kissed.
Taiyou also happened to have trouble breathing.
Every second he held his breath, he felt like he was sinking to the bottom of the ocean.
Even so, he continued to kiss her.
Holding his breath, he continued kissing her.
Taking her with him to sink to the bottom of the ocean.
Her resistance gradually weakened until it was finally gone.
As it was difficult to breath, her consciousness faded.
Nevertheless, he did not stop the kiss.
He continued to suck from Youran’s hot mouth to the point where it was burning him.
Until at last, light filled his eyes.