「The Kohaku-tan Bodyguards have all gathered」
「Uh huh. Good work」
This was a place behind the school building, whose climate was a step closer to that of fall, due to being away from the sun.
That was normally an unpopular place where no one would enter, but in contrast to that right now, a great number had been assembling.
The young-looking elderly woman stood close to the wall, flaunting her metaphorical size despite being of small stature.
There was an unbalance between her 130 centimeter height and the senior high school uniform she was wearing, which made it seem like an odd joke.
In front of her――as if waiting for orders, a large amount of male students wearing the same uniform were gathered.
There was one youth representing the top, and behind him were 25 people lined up in 5×5 formations.
The sight of all of them standing up straight was enough to remind one of a special force.
To the side, wearing the same uniform as them, Taiyou’s eyes had opened wide.
He was staring at all of them with a surprised, yet exasperated expression.
「Indeed. It be none other than me who invited dear husband here. I felt the prospects be high with this, so I sought to have ye come and see it once」
「You are referring to……this『Kohaku-tan Bodyguards』thing?」
「Aye, that be so」
He purposefully emphasized and separated each of the words.
「Why again……Well no, having a bodyguard squad is fine. You are older after all, and to be honest, since you’re of that age where you’re a senior, it wouldn’t be unusual for you to have henchmen or subordinates, but……Why did you have to call it that？」
「Because ye’d never call it something like that」
Kohaku said while grinning.
It wasn’t the innocent smile of someone befitting her appearance, but rather, a smile of a graceful adult.
Eternal Little――Loli Baba
If one were to know who she truly was, this smile would make sense.
Ever since he had first met her, she had continued to insist on Taiyou calling her「Kohaku-tan」.
「It be the same as legally changing one’s name. Use it gradually over time, and it begins to sink into those around ye」
「But, I just don’t know how I feel about……talking to Kohaku-san like that」
Taiyou made a bitter face, turning in the direction of the bodyguards.
「You guys fine with that? Calling her that」
He asked them.
Once he did, he got replies that……he hadn’t so much as imagined would come.
We live for Kohaku-tan！
We die for Kohaku-tan！！
We offer all for Kohaku-tan！！！
A wave of choral chanting enveloped him.
「Have these guys been super brainwashed!?」
Taiyou was shocked to the point where his voice squeaked.
「Wait, wait…What are you doing, Kohaku-san? Isn’t this kinda bad?」
「Would Sieg Jin have been better？」
「Seriously, please restrain yourself from that area of things！」
「But this was a result of my restraint」
「No no no no……I’m not sure you could refer to a worse outcome as a result of restraint」
Kohaku stared in puzzlement with her head tilted, thereafter turning to the bodyguards and inquiring.
「That is what Danna-sama has said」
The one who the statement had been aimed at, the male student at the top, answered for all present.
「All he did was echo our ideology. It is no different from saying『Let’s do our best today too！』」
「No, those are clearly different things！」
「It’s like doing morning assembly on the roof」
「Well if that ain’t brainwashing I dunno what it is！」
The youth ignored Taiyou’s interjection, continuing.
「Your existence itself annoys us, but we intend to interact with Kohaku-tan’s important person. You may order anything of us」
After frowning, Taiyou calmed down and thought about it.
For a moment there he had thought that Kohaku had done something dreadful, but from the answer he had heard just now, it didn’t seem to be that way.
――However, that was also but for an instant.
We love Kohaku-tan we love Kohaku-tan we love Ko――
Kohaku-tan *pant pant* Kohaku-tan *pant pant* Kohaku-tan *pant*――
He started hearing suspicious murmuring from the boys lined up behind.
「Kohaku-san！ Are you sure that this isn’t bad！」
「Well, well, it be nothing of concern」
「Nahhh, it kind of is」
「It not be anything of concern」
Kohaku repeated the same words.
「The final order be in Danna-sama’s hand, so as long as Danna-sama not be giving any ridiculous orders, it be fine」
「I see, that does make――wait, no no no」
「By the way, this be but a simple farce」
Kohaku said, snapping her fingers.
Once she did, the male students stopped their dangerous statements, all returning to their stiff expressions.
「And this be how it be. They be prioritizing most orders, but they not be following any more than that. Everyone has free will, and won’t be following extreme commands like『Die』. Right?」
When Kohaku asked, the center of the formation began speaking.
We live for Kohaku-tan！
We die for Kohaku-tan！！
We offer everything for Kohaku-tan！！！
「Aren’t some of them a bit off!?」
「They naturally became that way」
「Nah nah nah nah. Uhhh」
Taiyou thought about it.
「Yeah……are you sure this isn’t heading in a bad direction?」
「Objective and method. I merely followed it……」
Kohaku said, staring up at Taiyou.
That mannerism of hers, asking implicitly if it was so bad, neatly stirred up his desire to protect her.
There was Kohaku with her eyes like that of an abandoned puppy, and there were the utterly malicious gazes that the Kohaku-tan Bodyguards threw at him.
Right now he felt like he was in a bed of nails; surrounded by enemies on all sides.
Simultaneously, it was also a challenge to his own policy.
Objective and method.
Taiyou was always talking about those whenever he had the chance.
If he were to think along the lines of「Stops at nothing to be of use to Taiyou」, there was no way he could blame Kohaku.
Taiyou calmed down, trying to think about va…ri…ou…s…things.
After a bit, he spoke to the Kohaku-tan Bodyguards.
「For the time being, can you guys disperse?」
「For the time being――I’d like you to step out. I want to talk to Kohaku-san alone」
He said, looking straight at the top guy.
After a brief moment of being stared at, the male nodded heavily.
「All forces！ Move out――to the right！」
He said, and the twenty-six boys quickly moved out from behind the school building.
They certainly did have a discipline like that of troops.
「This be bad as well？」
While bitterly smiling, he softly hugged the despondent Kohaku to himself.
「Let us be more careful with how we do things」
「But, Danna-sama be always……」
「That might be true, but that’s exactly why……I’d like Kohaku-san to choose a different path; the exact opposite to what I choose」
While saying that, he pulled Kohaku even closer.
Hugging the entirety of her young body, he rested her chin on his shoulders.
It was just natural. It was the embrace of comforting a child.
「I think of you as our leader. Of course, more so than me. I even think you’re in a world far removed from Youran. Uhh, I can’t think of the precise wording right now, but do you see what I’m getting at？」
Kohaku wordlessly jerked her chin up, conveying that.
「With the three sisters and I being inexperienced, showing the path to Aoba, stopping Youran when she was prone to rampage from extremity to extremity…I think these are things that no one but Kohaku-tan can accomplish. I really do think that you’re the one who supports us from the roots up」
「And that Taiyou Castle is no different. You said that you gave that to me, but don’t you realize that even the fact you gave it to me was because you had been maintaining things from the outset?」
「It is. See, that’s why I wouldn’t like for you to do the same things as me. Because if the whole family were to do the same thing, we’d easily all be devastated in a pinch」
「Ye be saying ta have diversity in tha genes」
「Skillful as usual, Kohaku-san. You summarized what I harped on and on about in one sentence」
Kohaku bumped the side of her head into the side of his head.
It was the kind of light biting action that a puppy might do.
It was evident how soft her attitude had become, but Kohaku said nothing.
Taiyou suddenly realized something.
No, he more of felt it.
That was the same atmosphere as when they were in bed at night.
This was the same atmosphere as when she would behave like a spoiled child and plead with him.
Thinking briefly, Taiyou opened his mouth.
He spoke politely as usual, but he spoke with the kind of imperative tone that wouldn’t allow objection.
「Please do as I say」
「Indeed. I understand」
Kohaku, who had sought that, nodded immediately, separating herself from Taiyou.
「Just as Danna-sama says, I be disbanding the Kohaku-tan Bodyguards」
「Sorry about that. I know you went to all the trouble of making that」
「I not be caring」
Taiyou thought that this would do it for now.
That day after school, in the same area behind the schoolyard.
「The Danna-sama Bodyguards have now gathered」
「The name’s changed！ And there’s more people than before！」
「With that being said, I’ve disbanded the Kohaku-tan Bodyguards, so I now be leaving it to Danna-sama」
「No no no no, that is NOT what I meant!?」
To the unbelievable turn of events, Taiyou made a powerful outburst that could easily enter in the top 3 outbursts of his life.