It was evening on the road home from the school through the Oritachi shopping road.
Taiyou and Aoba were walking side by side in normal clothes, while Hera sat on Aoba’s shoulder.
After the exercise festival, they had showered, changed, and now they were bathed in the smell of shampoo.
「And so like that, war was declared against me.」
Taiyou told Aoba what had occured behind the platform.
He didn’t know how much Aoba knew, but he downplayed Akiha’s emotions while explaining what happened.
He untied the earphone cord in his hand.
Then put it untied into his pocket, where it tied itself up again, and then he took it out.
He kept doing that over and over since the night before.
「Geez…my mothers…what are they thinking?」
「They’re all trying to drive me away, someone told me a long time ago that driving away the son-in-law is a mother’s dream. I heard that directly from Atsuko. You’ve heard that, right?」
「Yeah, people told me that, from a long time ago.」
That’s why…her face seemed to say.
「And what’s this 2 to 1 thing? Who was the one against it?」
「Among them it was probably Nazuna, by process of elimination. Mio hates me, and Atsuko just likes all the commotion it causes.」
「Dang mothers! Geez!」
「So, what are you going to do, Aoba? You know more than anything, desu.」
Taiyou was about to turn the conversation in that direction when Hera barged in.
He grabbed tight to the earphone cord and glared at Hera, but he didn’t mean much by it.
「Yes, I know.」
「Aoba? You know…know about Akiha too?」
He hadn’t made sure, so he spoke ambiguously.
「Yes, I knew. That Akiha likes me.」
Aoba laughed and smiled with a tinge of bright discomfort.
In a few words, it was a complex expression.
「When you feel that you know someone likes you and that person isn’t a virgin, it’s usually the truth.」
「…is that a line from someone?」
「It’s not something you’d say, so I thought maybe someone told you that.」
「You can forget that – she’s just playing a joke on you…she lost her virginity at 83!」
「Well, I think she’s right.」
「Because I noticed it too, from when I had sex with you.」
Now Taiyou had the confused expression.
If that was the case, it was quite a simple explanation, but talking about something like this in a shopping street with so many people around made one feel embarrassed.
「And, I kind of knew. I love you Natsuno-kun, and you love me. My father loved me too…」
She took a short breath, and then continued.
「I knew that Akiha liked me too..」
Taiyou and Akiha didn’t speak for a while.
They turned the corner, entered the main shopping street, and walked towards their goal.
Then Hera opened her mouth.
「Well, then we have to think of a way to crush Akiha, desu.」
「Crush? That’s a bit too much!」
「But, if we don’t, it’s dangerous, right?! Aoba might get jumped on by her, desu!」
「That won’t happen to me, right?」
「But, she’s going to remove the obstacles right? There’s at least the possibility, desu!」
「And Aoba’s mothers have nothing against yuri love too!」
Aoba closed her mouth.
She imagined her mothers, and it might be possible, her face seemed to say.
「I thought so too, but, I think it’ll be okay.」
「Why do you think that?」
「Because there’s no way I’m letting go of Aoba.」
Taiyou looked down at the tied up earphone cord, and made his decision.
「No matter what, no matter what I have to do.」
「That’s fine, desu. But…」
Hera made a face like she didn’t understand for a bit, but, then just whispered “Oh well.”
「I guess we just have to think about a way to crush her! Desu!」
「Stop with all the crushing!」
Taiyou shouted back at her.
「It’s just the same thing.」
「No, no, no, the goal is different.」
「Yes, desu. You don’t leave Aoba no matter if you win or lose, but if you lose then things are going to be rough between Aoba and her family. So you have to win, and you have to win in a way that the other side can’t make up excuses for it, desu.」
「Sometimes you say some smart things.」
「I always say smart things, desu. You just can’t understand them, Taiyou.」
「That’s not true.」
Taiyou said decisively.
「Well, at least we have to do things the right way.」
「Yes, desu. So then…」
Hera flew from Aoba’s shoulder, and next to Taiyou’s ear, just so he could hear.
「You need to level up.」
「That’s what I’m doing now, right?」
「No, no, no…」
Hera grinned at him.
「Your next level is 19, and the one after that 20.」
「Yeah, after 19 is 20.」
So, he said with a question mark on his face to Hera.
「You’ve forgotten, Taiyou, 20 is a multiple of 5, so you get a new skill then.」
He nodded while whispering.
Then he remembered something similar.
No, he thought again.
That reminded him that when he got a skill, usually you’re able to use it right then.
At least all of his memories told him that.