Chapter 286: Adults and Children
「I was neglected, you see」
He felt as if his head were slammed into a counter as a greeting.
He felt like how you’d feel if an unexpected anaconda came out from a bush as you prodded it.
Seeing Taiyou’s reaction, Akiha laughed and continued.
「Ahaha, it’s not how you think it is. And I’m not trying to console you or anything」
「For example……Right, so when I was about 5, my dad collapsed at home. It was quite the commotion until the ambulance came……The cause was nutritional deficiency」
「Nutritional deficiency? You mean he was not eating enough？」
「See, Dad’s always been a scholar who plunges himself into his research, and while he does that he forgets about his surroundings. I don’t remember everything, but he had come across old Chinese books and was continuously reading through them. And he forget to eat or sleep, so lights out for him」
Taiyou wasn’t sure what to say.
「So since he’s that kind of person, of course he wouldn’t think enough about helping a child. So it would be classified as upbringing abandonment, but I don’t resent him or anything. More like “Yeesh, this guy’s done for”. Cause he’s a friggin’ idiot. Happened more than just once」
「Certainly sounds like it would」
「Uhh, but what about your mother？」
「She left before I realized it」
Akiha once again giggled.
With her usual brisk, carefree smile.
「Saying things like “Don’t make me live with a Chinese maniac like you!” before leaving. Although it was actually classical Chinese」
「That’s a rather strange way to put it」
「You think？ Well I guess I’m a little strange too」
「……Truly strange people won’t call themselves strange」
Taiyou had suddenly remembered when they had first met.
She had been sitting on the fence of the school roof.
He remembered her saying “Idiots and smoke love high places”.
「And so I met Aoba around the time my dad fell. I think it was because Aoba’s family was all there for Nazuna and her illness」
「Ah, did I hear that before?」
「It gave us the opportunity to hit it off, being children of the same age. And so we’ve been together ever since」
「Wow, I didn’t know that」
Grasping his chin, Taiyou nodded, convinced.
However, he quickly stopped.
There wasn’t anything particularly potent about what he had heard.
「Well, I get what you’re saying, but this is about you and Aoba meeting, right」
「Yup, darn skippyー」
「Don’t gloss over it. You haven’t told me a single freaking thing about why you started liking her」
Akiha made a face as if saying “What, ya mean THAT?”.
She giggled, looking up at the vacant ceiling, then spoke.
「I’m not sure about that」
「I just ended up liking her before I was aware of it. Isn’t that usually what happens？」
「It wasn’t that way for you？」
「……I feel like there were always more clear-cut reasons in my case」
Taiyou said, also looking up at the ceiling.
「Kotone, Suzune, Kazane……Kohaku-san, Aoba, Youran, Shirokiyami……」
He said, counting, then looked back at Akiha.
「And then you」
「So there have always been reasons of some sort for me」
「Kay, looks like we aren’t meant for each other. Bye byeee」
「I didn’t even start, idiot」
Taiyou made a wry smile. But it was also pleasant.
「If we go by this, then you and Aoba would also be unfit for each other. The reason she began liking me……accepted me, was because I had already made a harem. Accepted me because I had already made a harem that wouldn’t burden her like her family’s harem did」
「But who cares?」
「You should care」
「With love, you can overcome anything！」
She clenched her fists persuasively.
It didn’t sound like a joke. She was serious.
It sounded like she legitimately believed that love could overcome anything.
「It’s gonna be such a drag to convince you otherwise」
「That’s cuz you can’t」
「Then, what if I said that’s fine the way it is？」
Akiha made a blank face. She clearly had no idea what Taiyou meant.
「What do you mean that’s fine? You mean you’re gonna back off？」
「No I will not. I love Aoba, and there is no way in hell that I’d back off like some loser from a mobile phone novel」
「Then what are you talking about?」
「Be the bride of Aoba and I」
Akiha became further perplexed. It was like Taiyou’s proposal was in a different dimension and she couldn’t keep up.
That expression of hers was also quite lovely, but why not enjoy that more later on?
「So there’s this female author named “Shirai Ayame”. You know her？」
「The person who got the Chiriumi Award？」
「Yeah, that person. Apparently, they like something called the “sibling bowl”」
Akiha repeated in monotone.
「Yeah, no way you’d get that. It’s exactly how it’s written. Sibling as in brother and sister, and bowl like the kind you have at restaurants. It’s one of those types relating to “parent child” bowls or “sister bowls”, etc」
Akiha asked, and Taiyou nodded.
「I read this in some interview, and they said『I have a husband. I also have a wife. Husband and wife are siblings connected by blood』」
「And so they’re telling others to do the same？」
「I may have actually misunderstood. I thought that I had to degrade your love for Aoba to merely liking her in order to make you a bride. But now that I think about it, there wouldn’t really be a problem with you still loving Aoba. Just now, I realized that the important thing is you eventually growing fond of me and getting along with everyone else」
「Well? No problem there right?」
Taiyou asked as Akiha stared straight at him.
As per usual, her eyes had a fierce light in them.
And Taiyou gazed back without flinching.
As if insisting on his own feelings.
Inside this separated space, this room with unknown time, where there was nothing…
Amidst the silence like the halt of the world…The two of them gazed at each other.
Staring, questioning each other.
「I don’t wanna」
After all that, Akiha answered.
Opening her heavy mouth, she conveyed her decision to Taiyou.
「C’mon, this is totally the part where you normally say “Kay”. Not like there’s a better choice」
「I don’t get any of that stuff, and I don’t wanna」
「Welp, I didn’t think you’d accept anyway」
He grinned, twisting the corner of his mouth skillfully.
「Liking someone ain’t such a cheap thing」
「You’re one to talk! You just blurted out that you like me」
「But my feelings for you aren’t cheap」
Taiyou rested his head in his arms, falling straight backwards.
As he stared up at the ceiling, he thought about what to do next.