The living room, after everyone was gone.
Taiyou was still embracing Shirokiyami.
It had been a while since the other girls had left, and even their scents had begun to wear thin.
“…Maybe we should go somewhere to brighten things up.”
She shook her head.
“What about food? Are you hungry?”
She shook her head.
“Are you comfortable in your current position? Maybe you’d like to move around?”
She shook her head as she slowly looked into his eyes.
She would never answer him. This normally silent girl had truly become taciturn.
“You know, you smell really good.”
She reacted violently. He could feel her body stiffen as she firmly grasped his shirt.
“What is this though…maybe the scent of shampoo? I feel like I’ve smelled it before.”
“The same, what?”
“The same…as, yours.”
“Oh, is that it? No wonder I felt like I smelled it before.”
Taiyou said, sniffing again.
“Mm, but it’s a bit different. Similar, but definitely not the same. Did you put something else on, like perfume?”
“The smell…of, blood.”
Taiyou understood. Shirokiyami fidgeted.
“You just…take it, as is?”
“Well that’s a smell that I don’t have. So it makes sense why you smell different.”
“No, because it’s your smell.”
“I mean, just remember when we first met. You had quite the bloodlust, y’know? So why would I suddenly be scared or disgusted right now if I didn’t care back then?”
“Maybe I should be scared?”
She shook her head.
“Yeah? Good, I’d rather not have to act like I am.”
“I am…a, handful.”
“Why are you…laugh, ing?”
“No, it’s just…”
Taiyou laughed heartily.
“You’re not a handful at all. Out of the six here right now, you’d be second from the bottom.”
“Yes way. First off, the most troublesome one is Youran. She seriously gave me a hard time with how she’d run off, get me involved in various affairs, and resist whenever she feels like it.”
“Next we have Akiha. She’d be one down from Youran in terms of the “rejection” category, but to make matters worse, she also happened to really like Aoba, who happens to be the next one on this list. Aoba used to really hate my guts, and her mothers are still a pain to deal with. After that we have Kohaku-san. Whenever she’s with Hera, she always likes to fling lots of different topics my way and expects certain things. Although, well, I do enjoy trying to meet those expectations.”
“And now…it’s, me?”
“Yep. But you’re pretty different, when compared to Kohaku. Cause you were actually easy to understand. All I had to do was fight and defeat you. And well, it is a bit regrettable that I didn’t technically defeat you, but…Well, now we can get all nice and cozy like this, so I don’t have a problem with it.”
“The more I think about it, the more I realize how little trouble it was to get you. Although, well, Kotone and her sisters really weren’t hard to get, so in that sense they’d be number 1 on the least trouble.”
She shook her head repeatedly, numerous times. Almost as if she wanted him to agree with her.
“I’m still…inconveniencing, you.”
“Eh, I bet you’d keep insisting on that even if I told you otherwise.”
He patted her head, stroking his fingers through her long hair. The warmth spread from the fingertips to the chest, giving off a slight tickling sensation.
He called her. There was no response. He could sense that she was waiting for what he was about to ask.
“Is it alright if I call you by your name?”
“Your real name.”
Her body stiffened. He had anticipated this, so he continued.
“It’s been, what…nearly a year since we met? Sure, I think of you as Shirokiyami, but I just feel like calling you by your real name when speaking.”
Ah, how embarrassing to hear that come out of his own mouth. Still, he continued.
“Someone said this at one point in time: that all of my brides are like my women of destiny. Which includes you.”
“I am…a woman, of destiny?”
“Yes, you are too.”
“So if we go by that logic, then your name of destiny should also be my destiny. If that name wasn’t there, if you weren’t that strong…if you didn’t have a complex…if none of those things were there, we would never have gotten here today.”
“That’s an…amazing, thought process.”
“Although I probably should have graduated from using the term ‘destiny’ about two years ago…”
Taiyou said jokingly.
“But hey, maybe not having recovered from that means something, eh?”
“So would it be cool if I called you by your name?”
“I don’t…have, a house.”
“Amagiwa Ruri. The Wanderer Without a Relative.”
She recited this flawlessly. This was how she spoke whenever she used words that had significant meaning, and this was the most perfect phrase yet.
“I was…always, alone.”
“Going this way and that way…always…alone.”
“I’m so done…with all this wandering-”
The girl’s small body was shaking.