“How was it?”
Youran asked Taiyou in the bathroom.
“Anyone you took a fancy to?”
Taiyou nodded. That hadn’t even been in his mind until Youran had reminded him.
“Not necessarily. You mean if I just wanna screw ‘em, right? That was pretty much all of them.”
“Pretty much all of them? Guess we should root out the ones you don’t need.”
“So go tell them. I’ll take care of the rest.”
“You remember the conversation we had before this?”
“When you get to be 40, you have to take responsibility for your reputation.”
“Lean Karn’s words, huh.”
It was when they first met.
Taiyou had seen through Youran’s perfectly feigned behavior by looking at her face.
That was what Youran had said to him.
“And what of it?”
“Several of their smiles were disgusting. How should I say it…like their bad personality was oozing out.”
“Three…no, four of them.”
“We’re probably thinking of the same ones.”
“So what were you thinking about earlier?”
“You’ve got a good eye to notice that.”
Taiyou smiled awkwardly. He had assumed she was too surrounded by the ladies for her to notice.
“Don’t get too weirded out, ok?”
“What, did you fall in love with Hera?”
Youran asked, surprising Taiyou.
“You already saw through me that much? Is my face really that expressive?”
Taiyou patted his face down, looking in the mirror.
“And what about it?”
“Hera might be the eighth. If so, that’s problematic.”
“…I get it.”
Youran nodded. She immediately understood what he was trying to communicate.
“That certainly sounds problematic. But it isn’t like we can’t find a solution for it.”
“And what would that be?”
“Just kick Sakura out and you get an open space.”
“…You’ve got to be joking.”
He narrowed his eyes, glaring at Youran.
“Of course. If I actually wanted there to be an empty spot I’d offer my own life.”
“Now that really should be a joke.”
He didn’t say it, but he was still happy to hear it.
That wouldn’t have been a good thing to say aloud.
As he began paying attention to Youran again, he noticed how listless she seemed to be.
“Your face tells me that you don’t really care.”
“That’s because I do not.”
“Seriously? Why’s that?”
“Because I will always be with you.”
“Seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven, twelve, thirteen, fourteen, fifteen—-no matter how many people you bring in.”
Youran told him straight to his face.
“No matter how many people come in or leave, I will always be with you.”
“You…will be here for me?”
She shook her head.
“Nothing so presumptuous as doing something ‘for’ you. I will simply be by your side.”
At first he thought it was a roundabout expression for her to use, but in actuality it was an extremely straightforward confession.
“There is nothing to thank me for.”
“I’m glad you’re here.”
“I know six other women who would say the same thing.”
Her comment surprised Taiyou.
“What is with that face? Did you really not expect that?”
“I sure didn’t.”
“Who is it that you do not trust? I will tell them off, so just say the word.”
“It was just unexpected to hear you being so considerate of Sakura-san.”
This time it was Youran’s turn to be astonished. Her Shingetsu-no-Kami face splintered for just a moment.
But it really was just a moment.
“I have long since reconciled with her.”
“Yeah, I know. But it just sounded so natural the way you said it. Besides—-”
Youran quickly looked away.
This was one thing that Shingetsu would be incapable of doing.
She currently was red to the tips of her ears, just an ordinary girl.
He put a hand on her face and kissed her.
It was the kind of kiss that crushed one’s lips and tongue, a thick kiss.
“I will not say it again.”
“You’re quite the careless one, so I’m sure you’ll slip up again and say it for me.”
“I will not say it again, on my name.”
“On your name? Well that’s no good. Almost sounds like you’re serious.”
“No matter what happens, stay with me always.”
Taiyou said on purpose. He felt he had to.
Youran did not answer.
She had a beautiful smile on her face, which was quite unusual.
Late night, condominium rooftop.
Taiyou called for Hera.
As usual, Hera warped right in.
“What is it, Taiyou-chan? Are you not going to have sex with anyone today?”
“I need to tell you something.”
He looked at Hera with determined eyes, which threw her off.
“Tell me something?”
“Yeah, it’s really important.”
“Uh-huh…So what is it?”
“I like you.”
“I like you too, Taiyou-chan! Heeheehee, I always tell you that though, that I am yours!”
“I don’t mean that.”
He cut through what she was saying, replacing it with a new, firm statement that had no room for interpretation.
“I want you to be my eighth.”