“I have returned~ Third Princess.”
Kazuaki returned to the mansion that was meant for his private time, and stated this triumphantly the moment he pushed the doors of the living room aside.
A grin appeared on his red lips, the soft long hair with slight curls,and the hem of the skirt swayed gently as he strode forth in a dancing manner, sticking his face on the cage as he chuckled in delight.
The chameleon in the cage stuck its tongue out with a stoic expression.
“I did it! I tricked that Honoka Shikibu who is on good terms with Koremitsu Akagi and locked her in the basement. She thought I was Yū Kanai, shouting at me “Miss Kanai! Miss Kanai~!”. Ha, how funny is that? I lit the incense there, and now she might be having hallucinations of seeing Yū Kanai. Honoka Shikibu might have hallucinations of killing Yū Kanai here? Either way, I really am looking forward to seeing such things happen in the real world, Third Princess~”
He brought his cheeks to the cage for the umpteenth time, brought out the cricket feed, and the chameleon instantly feasted upon them before they could scatter.
Mesmerized by everything, Kazuaki spoke with a sweet voice,
“I was really shocked that Honoka Shikibu was wandering around the place where the deal was supposed to go through, and really shocked that she entered the chat room. If Koremitsu Akagi is to know that Honoka Shikibu was locked in the basement by Yū Kanai, he will definitely be feeling upset. I suppose I should enjoy the sight of her being intoxicated, and call in a report the following morning. What a perfect victory, Third Princess!”
He leisurely spun around, the hem of his skirt swaying.
He looked at himself in the mirror.
“Hm, this hairstyle is pretty rough too.”
“The curls on the hair really do not feel nice, and the light brown color really looks ugly…Hikaru and Koremitsu Akagi really have bad tastes to be infatuated with women of such hair colors.”
He noted with spite, took off the wig with those little curls, and put on the wig with the long black hair he liked.
He saw the black, glossy hair draped down his slender shoulders to his waist, and his fingers felt an icy sensation; upon this, he finally showed a satisfied smile.
“You see? I am prettier than they are. Hey, do you not feel this way too, Third Princess?”
Kazuaki lit his favorite incense, and the sweet aroma spread in the room, agitating his heart further.
“Black hair go well with women all, and it has to be long black hair. Those sluts with their brown hair permed into curls can just die for all I care. It will be great if Yū Kanai is told off by Koremitsu Akagi ‘you are a whore of a non-virgin’, take up the chopper, cut her arm off and kill herself. Koremitsu Akagi will go crazy as well.”
The reason why he approached Yū while the latter was in Australia with her mother was so that he could get his revenge on Koremitsu.
Through his investigations, he found that Koremitsu had feelings for Yū, who was one of Hikaru’s lovers.
Kazuaki first obtained her Yū, and convinced her.
His voice was similar to Hikaru’s, and by speaking to her with that voice, and showing that usual harmless, tender face, he was able to obtain her.
That was why he called her a frivolous non-virgin.
She talked to a man she was unfamiliar with, looking so cheerful, but she was so deplorable, she basically spread her buttocks wide, telling him to enjoy.
But while he was secretly resenting her, on the surface, he pretended to be an ordinary, honest, kind-hearted older brother to Hikaru, and managed to lure Yū to Japan successfully.
Then he let her be reunited with Koremitsu, to allow them to feel the sweetness back then.
“Please do not mention about me to Mr. Akagi.”
But at the same time, he sealed off Yū’s lips.
“He probably will not be happy to see his girlfriend being on good terms with another boy. There is no need to do anything that could cause a misunderstanding.”
While his tone was cheery at first, starting from the middle,
“I will be misunderstood by Mr. Akagi. He will hate me. There is no one around me that I can trust.”
He plotted to seek Yū’s sympathy.
“As I expected, women can be calculative in some ways, but they are fools after all. They are fooled so easily after all~!!”
He had been despising the creatures called women for quite a long while.
Kazuaki, raised as the lone son of the Mikados’ head wife, was told from a very young age that he was to continue the family corporation as he was the oldest son. His mother, infamous for her impatient personality, would lash out at the people around them every day.
She said that she wanted pancakes, but when others served it to her on a platter, she would angrily declare that it would be fattening because it was covered with butter and syrup. She yapped that those troublesome picnics should be cancelled, hoping that they would rain, but when it actually did, she lashed out, saying that she finally bought a new dress, and the heavens would not let her wear!
With regards to Kazuaki, attaining good grades alone was not enough for her. She kept teaching him how to order others around, but she was infuriated when he let his classmates copy his homework. If Kazuaki’s grades were to slide in the slightest, she would rage at him for being so incompetent, that she could not put on a good face in front of others. Kazuaki’s personal tutors too had textbooks, set squares and compasses thrown at them.
Women are unreasonable.
Women are too stubborn.
To sum it all up, it was because they were women.
Kazuaki’s fiancee was utterly terrified of him whenever they met, and it really infuriated him. However, as they were relatives, Tsuyako’s appearance was strikingly similar to Kazuaki’s mother, and the splendid red hair reminded of Kazuaki of his mother, who would head to a member salon to dye her hair in such an unnatural manner. This further incensed him.
Little Tsuyako is so introverted, always wailing away, cannot make a proper greeting, always making mistakes when she dances, always unable to please me. Is she forgiven because she is a girl? Why is it that I am the one who always gets scolded by mother.”
I hate women.
It is too despicable of them to be wearing such pretty red dresses without putting in much effort.
I am more suited than Tsuyako to wear them.
I cannot have cute clothing and toys because I am a boy.
I prefer women clothing.
I prefer girly colors
I do not want to be a boy!
That was the moment when he learned of a shrine hidden in Tsuyako’s garden, one dedicated to the ‘Rokujō’.
Legend had it that she was a terrifying transformed into a spider during the Heian era, and devoured her husband and the mistress.
Kazuaki was not terrified in the least when he heard of that rumor.
Instead, ‘Rokujō’ was thought to be purging those filthy women, and he admired her.
The dazzling, terrifying, cruel image of ‘Rokujō formed in his heart. His cheeks seared, and he prayed that if he was to be born a girl, he wished to be a woman like ‘Rokujō’.
Kazuaki’s mother was one of the Udates.
Kazuaki had the blood of the Udates within him.
Ever since then, Kazuaki would feel jumpy whenever he touched the things he liked, the fluttering red skin, the long black wig, the sweet perfume. It seemed there were voices in his ears, You accepted me, and shall become one with me. Now that you have obtained the spider’s power, you can exact your vengeance on those filthy women.
The first time he put on the red skirt, he stared blankly at the alluring figure shown on the mirror, and inadvertently brought his face close to it.
Why, this dress suits me much better than it does to Tsuyako.
Yes, yes, yes—I am more suited for this.
Ever since then, he kept snatching Tsuyako’s clothes, stealthy stole the clothes from his mother’s wardrobe, and stood in front of the mirror, looking at how cute he was.
He wanted others to marvel at his beauty, and he wanted the praise of others, but that was a wish taht would never be granted.
Whenever he saw his little brother Hikaru, how the latter was cuter than the girls, such an innocent gentle.
Whenever he saw that smile, he felt his heart punctured.
“You are not allowed to talk.”
Kazuaki’s mother had completely abandoned Hikaru. That is not a person meant to be born on this world. He is the child of a demon, born of the filthiest person in this world..
But Hikaru looked to be shone upon by the clear sun in front of him. His face showed a sanguinic smile that surpassed that of a child, one Kazuaki had never seen before. Kazuaki felt that he was purified just by looking at Hikaru.
Hikaru was always looking at the other girls, never once looking Kazuaki’s direction.
But on a party on a certain day, Kazuaki wore the clothing he stole from Tsuyako, and approached Hikaru while crossdressed.
Hikaru smiled, and held Kazuaki by the hand.
“The Tulips I grew have bloomed. They are pretty. Let us look at them.”
Just when Hikaru was about to drag Kazuaki along, the latter said,
“I have to go now.”
And let go of the hand.
“Well then, let us play together next time.”
Hikaru did a pinky swear.
That Hikaru is a fool, so easily bluffed.—but at the following meeting, Hikaru never once looked at Kazuaki, then dressed in male clothing.
Kazuaki was vengeful.
No matter how many years passed, he still could not forget the initial grief he felt back then. Whenever Hikaru was surrounded by women, Kazuaki would be utterly livid.
I am prettier than any of the other flowers you have when I put on the dress. I should be the one!
Why is it that Hikaru cannot realize it
Why is he not spending time with me? Why is he wasting his time with those filthy women!?
He was livid, spiteful, so much that he was suffocated.
Hikaru died because he interacted with those filthy women. And because he did, he got sullied like them. Those women killed Hikaru.
But even after Hikaru died, there was the wretched hound called Koremitsu Akagi going around, saving those women.
Kazuaki wished for all that Hikaru left behind to be completely eradicated.
He wanted to be a women to purge those ugly, filthy women, just as Rokujō did when she devoured the wretched mistress. He wanted to isolate the women Hikaru loved—especially the most beloved, and shatter them.
That was his vengeance upon Hikaru for not knowing his actual identity until the very end, and did not fulfill that promise.
The vengeance on Koremitsu for shaming him—
First, he wanted to use Yū Kanai to crush Koremitsu, the eyesore to him. Then, he would snatch Hikaru’s child from the ‘most beloved’, and raise him up, such that he would only have eyes for Kazuaki, that he would love Kazuaki alone.
“Great if he is born a boy. If a girl, I shall have her undergo a sex change.”
While he was daydreaming as he held the chameleon cage.
“You’re still that perverted bastard with those damned intentions.”
♢ ♢ ♢
Koremitsu stood at the center of the living room, glaring at Kazuaki Mikado—Hikaru’s half brother, with a furious, condescending glare.
Kazuaki lifted his head.
The sweet scent, black hair, white face, silky shoulders, flat chest, slender waist were all giving off an alluring vibe.
It was the first time Koremitsu saw Kazuaki dressed in female clothing so brazenly, but it was chilling how much he looked like a ‘woman’.
Leaving aside the body, there was the long, narrow eyes, the red lips that were pouted petulantly, the musky atmosphere. It felt as if the blacks of a woman was taken down and assembled as a human.
Kazuaki narrowed his eyes at Koremitsu—and then looked over at Yū, who was shriveled by the side. After doing so, his lips slowly opened.
He straightened his body, showing an alluring smile—the smile of a ‘woman’.
Hikaru stood behind her, ostensibly trying to support her as he watched his half-brother tensely.
Kazuaki spoke with the voice that was strikingly similar to Hikaru.
“Ah yes, I did give Yū the card key.”
Yū’s shoulders again shivered, her fleeting eyes showing fear.
Koremitsu returned to the hospital where Yū was, and admitted Honoka as a patient. It was Yū who requested to follow Koremitsu to Kazuaki.
This was too much for Yū after all, and Koremitsu immediately felt regretful. She was fooled by someone she trusted, and that person was smiling demurely at her while crossdressed.
Kazuaki’s lips curled increasingly, his eyes reprimanding as he slowly continued,
“You are unexpectedly brazen to bring a man into my room. Ah, well, there is nothing to be shocked about. You are that kind of person after all, Yū. In any case, you were the one smiling away and skipped classes to come back to Japan with me. I was the one who paid for the flight and accommodation.”
“I, did not…”
Yū’s face froze as she whispered back in defiance.
Koremitsu raised his eyebrow, and right when he was about to growl, Kazuaki shot him a condescending look as he scanned the former from head to toe, before looking at the chin.
“Hey, Mr Akagi, this Yū whom you love is this kind of a woman. Your illusions have been shattered, no? I really do want to wish that Yū is arrested as a criminal and corrected, but it is a pity that events were revealed a tad too early.”
A voice came from Koremitsu’s throat.
It was the first time he was so furious that the voice came out. Clearly it showed how this man in front of him, no, this ‘woman’ really infuriated.
Kazuaki did not shut up, perhaps having realized the fury surrounding Koremitsu.
The chameleon in the cage maintained its stoic face as it stuck its tongue out.
“Well, listen up then! The fact remains that Yū imported drugs and sold them to earn pocket change. The female drug dealer holding the Poppies has been becoming quite popular on some improper websites out there. How do you feel seeing your favorite girl becoming famous? Huh~!!!”
(I really want to murder this guy!)
Koremitsu wanted to kick Kazuaki down, grab the neck, and smash him. There was a tremendous killing intent in his rage.
Luring out the violent beast in Koremitsu’s heart were Kazuaki’s eyes, voice, and the sweet scent lingering in the room. Just when Koremitsu was overwhelmed by a dangerous impulse.
“The one who sold the drugs was not Yū, but you, Mr Kazuaki!”
Hikaru, standing behind Yū, spoke with a clear voice that struck through the heinous atmosphere.
That expression and voice was devoid of hesitation, and Koremitsu regained his composure, yelling,
“That was you!”
“Poppies are no longer in the Japanese market, and there is no way any shop will sell them. If it is you however, Mr Kazuaki, you can import them by air, or grow time in the breeding nursery under the Mikados conglomerate. There is no way Yū is able to do all this.”
“Poppies only bloom in Japan during November, right? There’s no way she has any means of obtaining them unless you gave her those flowers!”
At first, there was a bouquet left on the sofa .
After that, there were thin, crimson petals scattered on the floor when Koremitsu visited Yū again.
Following that, on the night he received the ominous message, there was the drug he found in the Poppy bouquet that was placed on the sofa.
It was then that he suspected Yū for the first time based on the computer browser history that indicated the deals.
Yū was merely requested by Kazuaki to hold the bouquet of Poppies and visit the old folks homes as a volunteer.
And during that time, Kazuaki put on the red lipstick, wearing a skirt, wandering around leerily, doing whatever he wanted.
“Mr Kazuaki hates Koremitsu because of the incident involving Miss Aoi. He wanted revenge, so he approached Yū, brought her back to Japan, and made her a criminal.”
“You pretended to be goody-goody and lured Yū back, prepared the cutter on the door, the nails on the corridor, the umbrella with ink on it, and kept causing trouble for her in every way, and you kept sending me one message after another! That’s despicable of you! And now you planned to have Yū be a drug dealer?”
The residence of Kazuaki’s mother contained that forbidden shrine.
The woman who became a spider and devoured her husband and the mistress was sealed in there. That woman’s name was ‘Rokujō’; this was what Koremitsu learned from Tsuyako.
The women of the Udates contained Rokujō’s blood.
And this slender, black-haired woman, sneering away bewitchingly with her red lips contorted, was the abomination of that spider.
Spitting out those fine threads the eyes could not see, weave its web, and hid itself, awaiting its prey to fall.
“In fact, the one who sold the drugs was Mr Kazuaki! The one who wore the wig and female clothing, holding that bouquet, pretending to be Yū was—”
“You’re the one who crossdressed and sold the drugs, you damned pervert!!!”
Koremitsu’s bellow echoed throughout the room. Both Hikaru and Koremitsu were glaring furious at the malicious long black hair called ‘Rokujō’.
The red hairs curled.
Showing delight, Kazuaki eked a venomous breath, saying,
“What are you saying now? I do not understand at all~.”
A malicious aura oozed from the hair that was as black as darkness itself.
“I do not have any impressions on the pin holders and the umbrella.~~~”
There was a sickening sweet trail at the end, and he narrows his eyes, pretending to be curious.
“Ahh~ however, it appears that girl at the hospital reception wants to be my lover, and has viewed as a love rival. Perhaps she was the one who did it. Well, Yū here appears to be easily bullied, always looking so honest and obedient. It is to be expected that she is to be maligned.~”
For the umpteenth time, Koremitsu’s rage hit the roof on this day.
What nonsense is this guy saying now!?
Why’s he still so shameless at this moment, playing dumb?
He’s blaming others for his own crimes
“That classmate of yours, Miss Shikibu, had been tailing Yū here with a scary face, Mr Akagi. However, their grudges do not have anything to do with me.”
Koremitsu again clenched his fists, and Yū paled as she stood by the side. Upon seeing Yū widen her eyes with timidity, Koremitsu felt a deep pricking pain within him.
At the same time, his rage at Kazuaki was boiling.
“The photos Shikibu took has you crossdressing. You can’t say that you aren’t involved here.”
“But that is simply what it appears to you, no? That is because you do not wish to admit that Yū is the culprit. She is not that kind of woman you think of.”
“What did you say!?”
Yū too appeared to be on the verge of breaking into tears. The moment he swung his fist, Kazuaki narrowed his eyes curiously.
“It seemed Yū knew that Miss Shikibu learned that she was involved in drug dealing, and located her in the basement, and drugged her~”
“…I know. Shikibu’s now lying on the hospital bed. You drugged her, and nearly burned her alive.”
“Ehhh~ a fire too? I did not know at all.”
“!!! Yū was in the room the entire time when I went to Shikibu. She was on the way to do that volunteer work you told her to do, but went back to her room because she left something. Looking at the time, it’s not possible for Yū to lock Shikibu. Also, Yū has the alibi of doing volunteer work all this time while you were going around doing your deals. I just need to get those old men to prove it, and those guys in the hospital would have seen Yū entering!”
Yes, there was a lot of evidence indicating that that Yū was not the Poppy, that Kazuaki was.
The situation at this point was highly disadvantageous to Kazuaki.
(But why’s he still being so calm at this point? While being that crossdressing pervert wearing that wig and skirt.)
It felt that Koremitsu’s group was the one pressured instead, and he felt anxious within.
“Well everyone, if you can prove it to me.”
While Koremitsu remained speechless, Hikaru spoke with disdain,
“It is impossible, Koremitsu. The old people and everyone else at the hospital must have been under Mr Kazuaki’s command. That is how it is right now.”
“They’re all his goons!?”
Was that receptionist woman not the only subordinate working under Kazuaki? Was everyone involved with Yū under his watch?
Or perhaps to Kazuaki, the heir to the Mikados conglomerate, he was confident in his power to create false alibis from everyone involved?
What intimidated Koremitsu more than Kazuaki’s words was that the latter showed absolutely no remorse over his despicable actions.
What’s wrong with this guy’s mental construct!?
“Did I not mentioned it before? I can be forgiven for whatever I do, you know~?”
Kazuaki glanced at his phone. That sickeningly sweet voice he spoke with was like a song.
“This here is data that proves the drug deals Yū did as the Poppy. What do you think will happen if I give it up?”
Hikaru gasped, and Yū’s face froze.
Koremitsu too felt a chill in his heart.
(Kazuaki’s phone doesn’t contain any evidence. It’s all fabricated. This liar. But what if the hospital guys and the old folks are sided with Kazuaki as he said._
Most would probably think of it as a photo of Yū holding a bouquet of crimson flowers, and perhaps she would be the target of much interest?
Could the delicate Yū actually handle this!? At this moment, Yū, standing right beside Koremitsu, had lost luster in her eyes.
Kazuaki raised the phone, and pressed his finger on the send button. Hikaru tried to snatch the phone away, but he just could not touch it.
“Okay then, let us upload it for the world to see.”
Koremitsu leapt at Kazuaki, toppling the incense burner that was oozing a sweet fragrance. The long, fine black hair swayed in the air like spider threads, scattering onto the floor in an alluring manner.
“Ah, I uploaded it.”
Kazuaki, lying on the floor, pressed the button.
Koremitsu froze. Hikaru and Yū too remained rooted, looking tense.
The chameleon in the cage snapped its tongue, devouring the bug.
Kazuaki got up, sneering as he approached the table. He opened the computer placed on the table, and switched it on,
“Hey, come and look. See? This uploading site is really so popular at the moment~Ahh, how~~ great it is to be able to upload this here. Yū’s face should be rather clear here too—”
Kazuaki grinned as he had a look at the computer, but his expression suddenly changed.
It was a look of utter disbelief as he widened his eyes.
Koremitsu and Hikaru too had a glance at the screen, and were dumbfounded.
(What is…going on here?)
The computer screen clearly showed the photo of a woman holding crimson flowers.
The woman was wearing a skirt, her body looked delicate, and she had long, slightly permed brown hair.
White skin, little face.
Intriguing, mysterious eyes.
(…This isn’t Yū.)
Shown on the screen was a crossdressing Kazuaki!
Kazuaki’s lips were shut, his eyes widened as he kept clicking the mouse, and new photos were shown.
The woman holding crimson flowers in this photo was all Kazuaki, and even the photos of him in usual male clothing were uploaded.
It seemed these photos were taken at a party held in a hotel hall. The bespectacled Kazuaki was dressed in a pricey suit, holding a glass of bubbling champagne, smiling genially.
“W-what in the! Why are my photos—! Yū’s photos are supposed to be uploaded instead!”
Kazuaki’s quivering fingers continued to click the mouse, his face increasingly contorted, large beads of sweat continued to fall, and his breathing was erratic.
An icy voice rang at this moment.
“What you uploaded is proof of your own misdeeds.”
His hair still messy, Kazuaki lifted his head agitatedly.
Koremitsu too looked over at the source of the voice.
The tall, intellectual beauty strolled into the room with her long hair swaying.
Hikaru called out in surprise.
Koremitsu too widened his eyes.
That was followed by other voices,
“We have made arrangements with all parties. Even with you abusing the name of the Mikados, you have nowhere to go with the evidence laid out in front of you.”
Entering Koremitsu’s eyes was the poised, handsome face of Shungo Tōjō.
Followed by a cheerful, noisy voice,
“Wow. The view count is just growing now. I guess my efforts for swapping the photos isn’t for naught.”
Staring at the phone and talking was Hiina Oumi of the news club, who was supposedly unconscious and hospitalized.
Standing right behind them was the cute, doll-like girl, Aoi, whose lips were curled together, seemingly putting on a facade. Koremitsu was left dumbfounded.
(Even Aoi’s here! What’s going on here!)
Hikaru remained rooted, his mouth wide open, and he was completely stumped. It was most probable that Koremitsu too was showing a similar look himself.
Kazuaki got on his feet, his face contorted as he yelled from the top of his lungs.
“What!? Why are you here!? I never recalled having invited you here!! Also, how did you get in? Did Asai threaten the manager and forced him to open the door? Why are they listening to Asai and not to me? None of them are of any use. I shall fire them, fire them all!”
To put it bluntly, the dazzling look and swaying hair truly was like that of a woman.
Asai gave Kazuaki a condescending look while the latter was in that state.
“The manager did not obey my words. He obeyed the will of the Mikados’ head and unlocked the door.”
“I do not know what you mean~”
Kazuaki glared at Asai spitefully.
(The head, as in Kazuaki and Hikaru’s dad? I remember he’s still lying sick out there…”
“No matter how poor his condition is, as the head of the Mikados, he has to fulfill his duty when the eldest son is to be doing such a thing, no?”
“Father!? He saw it!?”
Asai coldly nodded.
Kazuaki glare so angrily, his blood vessels were about to burst, his face contorted to a point of speechless.
“Why~! Why, why did you do such a thing!? This is overboard! Too much! That is too cruel of you, Asai! Hey, Third Princess! Asai is being too overboard! Like a demon! Wh-what did I do to offend Asai!? Yo-you are are the devil!”
Kazuaki vented his complaints as he held the chameleon cage, and Asai raised her eyebrows.
“—To avoid the judgement of Koremitsu Akagi, put a wet handkerchief in ‘The Aoi flower’ table’ You were the one who sent such a weird message, did you? After I ignored it, I had a wet handkerchief placed at my table that day, and after that, there was a dead cicada put in it, followed by pin holders, and then, the requests got increasingly worse. Whenever I received a message, I would have the same items mentioned in the messages onto my table.
—I know that you are the one who placed the chopper from the home economics room in my drawer, Aoi.
—I do not know about that. Did you not put a pin holder from the floral arrangement club in my shoe locker, Asa?
Koremitsu recalled the intense squabble Asai and Aoi had on the school corridor that day.
Back then, he was startled to hear things like chopper and pi n holders.
Following that were the messages—
—I never did send any message. Did you not send a few weird ones yourself?
—How can I possibly be sending any to you when we are on harsh terms!
“I do not know! Your personality is so gloomy and cruel, Asai, that you are hating people like a demon. Was it not a certain person in school who did this?”
“Well yes, but someone was ordered by you to do so, I suppose?”
Kazuaki was left speechless.
Any attempts to retort or defend himself were overturned.
“You tried to make me suspect Aoi, but your intentions were completely wrong. The reason why we had that argument so openly was to make you careless.”
Asai straightened her back, giving a sharp glint in her eyes; once she was done speaking, Aoi nervously spoke,
“I too received a message telling me to put dress pins and chopper in the ‘Morning Glory table’, and I had the same items put at my table. It seemed Asa was the one who did it—but.”
Aoi’s eyes showed a determined glint.
“No matter how much Asa hates me, she definitely is not the kind of person to do such a thing. I know this very well, having grown up with her since young.”
Asai restrained all her emotions, pretending to be stoic as she listened to Aoi.
And then, she calmly stated,
“…I have no reason to suspect Aoi. You chose the wrong targets this time, Kazuaki.”
After hearing Asai’s words, Aoi’s cheeks were slightly blushed, looking delighted and proud.
Hikaru’s expression too tendered as he stared at them. He had been worried that Aoi and Asai were unable to reconcile their differences since Summer began; surely he must be really happy to know that the bond between them did not vanish.
Kazuaki’s face in turn got increasingly contorted, and he hugged the chameleon cage tightly,
“I-I do not know anything…I do not know anything at all~~! Hey, that is right~, yes~, Third Princess~?”
He pressed his forehead onto the chameleon cage as he said that.
The chameleon merely swiped its tongue, unable to provide any defense for Kazuaki.
Kazuaki remained pale and silent, perhaps rattled that his beloved pet was treating him so coldly.
Koremitsu in turn had no intention of showing sympathy.
Hiina too gave a tomboyish smile, saying nonchalantly,
“I too pretended to be knocked out and hospitalized. It really is great that I was able to go all out hiding in the darkness.”
And just like Aoi and Asai’s quarrel, what appeared to be Hiina carted into an ambulance and taken to the hospital was all a sham.
(Really, these guys—)
If only they had given a heads-up. While feeling enlightened, Koremitsu was a little miffed.
How much do you think I worried because of you guys?
However, it may seem that Asai and the others toiled on, endured skepticism and distrust, and fought on with indomitable wills in places Koremitsu could not see.
Tōjō, who was all flustered when Asai and Aoi were arguing, had reverted to his usual self at this point, speaking with a solemn tone,
“Even with the Mikados’ influence to censor this incident, and even if you do get escape the legal punishment, the facts that were greatly publicized will never be removed. Those people nominating you as the next head of the Mikados will be thinking about it again. This too includes my father”
There was a war between the Roses and the Wisterias over the next head of the Mikados.
The Roses were led by Kazuaki’s mother, and the Wisterias were led by Hikaru’s stepmother, Fujino.
Tōjō declared the defeat of the Roses.
Kazuaki stuck his face on the chameleon cage, slightly shivering.
Asai then dealt the final blow.
“Your mother must be feeling enraged now. She may be thinking that this son of hers is useless, and will abandon you. I suppose you should hurry and find a way to appease her.”
Kazuaki had his back turned on Koremitsu and the others this entire time, suddenly shivered violently,
“…No…I do not know. I do not know anything~. Not the messages, not the drugs.”
The stammering words got increasingly louder, and became spiteful words.
“I just brought Yū back for a little while. I just wanted to show the red dog who shamed me who the boss is here. No! I hate this!! I should have realized it back then! I feel filthy talking to all the women related to Hikaru!!”
Kazuaki immediately turned around.
The black hair fell, and his eyes were utterly vengeful as he glared at Yū, who was shriveled behind Koremitsu. He opened his red lips, yelling with all his might,
“Of course! Stop pretending to be pure! You definitely slept with Hikaru in that tattered apartment and enjoyed yourself there! You are undoubtedly a bitch!”
In any case, he decided to counter the combined assault from Asai’s group, and aimed for the weakest amongst them,Yū.
(This guy’s rotten to the core!)
Hikaru’s face cringed, and Koremitsu charged forward with a clenched fist. Tōjō too approached Kazuaki with a grim face simultaneously.
But at this moment, some long, soft, frilly hair gently passed by Koremitsu from the side.
And it suddenly stopped.
At that instance, Yū got right in front of Kazuaki, and delivered a resounding slap at Kazuaki’s right cheek.
Koremitsu could not believe it.
She slapped him!
Yū actually slapped him!
Hikaru, floating around, watched on with his mouth agape. Asai, Aoi and Hiina too looked astonished.
Tōjō in turn widened his eyes, looking dazed, his hands cupped over his head as he knelt down on the floor.
He had assumed that Yū was a feeble, honest girl, had a crush on her. What exactly caused her to actually slap someone else,, perhaps he was completely shocked.
“This has to be a nightmare…” Kazuaki stammered.
Kazuaki too must have predicted that he would be beaten up by Koremitsu and the others, but never in his wildest dreams would he have expected Yū to return a slap in kind to him.
He was left at a loss.
Yū stared at Kazuaki’s face, and whispered,
“That was for…slandering Hikaru and me without any basis.”
Kazuaki collapsed onto the floor.
“Unbelievable…that is why…”
His lips let out a vague voice.
“THAT’S WHY I HATE WOMEEENNN!!!!”
“Women…what about women!! They are weak, foolish, filthy, inferior species. They just need to lower their heads and obey, yet they just use their looks to attract others, feebly rely on others, and say ‘I cannot live on without you. You have to protect me’. But they in fact are stubborn, foolhardy beings, I cannot kill them all no matter how many I tried to. Others got fooled by their delicate, sheltered selves, yet they just go about frolicking with the flowers through their own faces!!!”
Large beads of tears melted his mascara, eyeshadow and formation, and he was a terrible wreck.
If Kazuaki was to have a mirror in front of him at this point, surely he would have committed suicide at that instance.
(Anyway, you aren’t a girl.)
Perhaps Koremitsu was not alone in this thinking, maybe everyone else had the same thought, but nobody retorted.
It was likely that nobody was in the mood to retort due to how awkward they felt as they saw Kazuaki weep like a bawling child.
“Ugh, but why does Hikaru like women!!! I am much cuter than they are!! I have such nice, white skin, and I am prettier than them. Why…why is he so gentle towards girls! I-I…was never in his sights! The women around Hikaru are all sluts, they lost their virginity! Compared to such filthy brown hair swine, ugh, what am I lacking in!! How can I possibly lose!?”
At first, Koremitsu did not understand what Kazuaki was saying.
At one moment, Kazuaki mentioned Koremitsu’s name; at another, he said he was cuter. Was there a link?
Asai raised her eyebrows, and Aoi widened her eyes.
Tōjō continued to cup his head with his heads, and Hiina gave a solemn, tragic look at the weeping Kazuaki.
Yū too watched Kazuaki sadly,
Watched Kazuaki with the exact same expression Yū did.
“M-mother—said that Hikaru was a child born of that wretched woman, so she forbade me from speaking to him…to ignore him…I-I could not look at him at all…if our eyes were to meet, I was to look away…but, I was the one, ignored by Hikaru.”
The mascara caused the tears to be dyed black, trickling down the chin, and black beads formed on the skirt.
The son of the wife, and the son of the mistress.
The son who was raised to be the successor, and the son who was not supposed to be born onto this world, slandered by others.
Kazuaki was assumed to be more outstanding than Hikaru in every aspect, that he should be the leading man.
But in fact, it was Hikaru, who should be hiding in a dark corner, overwhelming everyone with that dazzling, brilliant light of an adorable smile of his.
—You have to keep smiling at all times. Everyone will love you because of this.
Hikaru’s mother, who passed away when he was young, kept repeating these words, that even if he was teased, he was to continue smiling with sincerity.
Koremitsu knew that Hikaru abided by this promise, and kept showering the people around him with his love, always maintaining his smile, and grew into a boy who was yet to cry.
He too knew that Hikaru was always alone.
But to Kazuaki, Hikaru was probably better than his wretched self, for the latter was always smiling brilliantly.
That was why Koremitsu felt that Kazuaki was jealous of Hikaru, hated him, and wanted to rob him of his true love.
But there was something amiss.
While there was such a feeling, that did not seem to be all—
(Is this guy also one of Hikaru’s?)
“Sobs…I wore Tsuyako’s red one piece dress, and approached Hikaru…he smiled and held my hand…we even had a promise saying that we will play together next time…after I put on male clothing, even when I did approach him…staring at him intently, he would just smile at other girls— and would not look at me!!!”
(As I thought, it’s about Hikaru—)
Hikaru watched the many black trails that glided down the cheeks of his wailing older brother.
One had to wonder what Hikaru was feeling when he heard this sudden confession from this older brother he was estranged from.
The clear eyes were dyed with a little haze.
“H-he would not look at me because I am a boy…did he? Would he come back to speak to me, if I keep wearing that red dress and continue to crossdress? Will he continue to play with me? Will he look at the Tulips in the garden with me? Hey! Hikaru! Tell me! Hikaru!!”
Hikaru watched on in anguish as Kazuaki continued to call his name over and over again.
Asai, Aoi, Tōjō, Hiina respectively scowled, watch on tearily, give a conflicted look, and remained silent.
“…Kazuaki, do you like Hikaru?”
Perhaps he was not jealous at Hikaru, but at the flowers Hikaru loved?
His hair ruffled as he glared at Koremitsu, Kazuaki’s face, now looking like a bawling child, was devoid of any presence.
However, he continued to put up a facade.
“I-I do hate him, of course!! Hikaru kept ignoring me, always fooling around with those frivolous non-virgins, and even had a scandal with that Tsuyako who is so much uglier than I am! I really hate him!!!”
His voice echoed through the entire room.
Like Hikaru, Yū too looked on with sadness, and whispered,
“Mr. Kazuaki…you told me before that he wanted to talk to Hikaru. That was…his…true intentions? Also…when I mentioned that Mr. Akagi has fulfilled my promise with Hikaru, you told me with sadness that ‘to me, that is impossible’…”
Kazuaki lowered his eyebrows, his lips curled into a frown, his face looking utterly hapless, before he eked out those words.
“Fuu…that was…that was just a lie to bluff you…I really despise Hikaru. Th-that is why…I removed all the Tulips Hikaru grew from the root. But even so, Hikaru never realized that I did it…everyone thought it was Tsuyako’s fault…Hikaru then grew new flowers the next day, and went off to play with Aoi and Asai…”
Aoi and Asai widened their eyes.
When Hikaru and the others were younger, that was the incident about Tsuyako ripping out the Tulips grown at Aoi’s house.
That was Kazuaki’s doing while he was dressed in Tsuyako’s clothes.
Was that not because Tsuyako was furious at Aoi for being betrothed to Hikaru, when she had hoped to betrothed to Hikaru herself rather than with Kazuaki?
When confronted with Kazuaki’s eccentric thoughts, Koremitsu was left flabbergasted, and at the same time, he felt rage surging from the bottom of his belly.
That incident caused a tremendous psychological trauma to Aoi, and also to Tsuyako.
How could be continue to say such selfish things and cause trouble for others!? Such a callous person!
“!!—Kazuaki, you became so vengeful because you wanted Hikaru to look at you? Are you an idiot?”
Everyone present turned their eyes to Koremitsu.
Feeling utterly humiliated, Kazuaki stared back,
“I-I do not wish to be called a fool by a brute…”
He groaned with vengeance.
But Koremitsu did not hear Kazuaki’s words to the very hand, as he glared at Kazuaki, quipping,
“The reason why Hikaru never paid attention to you is because you never took the initiative to approach him! Hikaru always wanted friends of the same gender! If you had told him that you wish to be friends with him, he would have gone right at you immediately!”
Koremitsu thought of his own situation with Hikaru.
Hikaru gave his all so that they could be friends.
He waited in the corridor for Koremitsu to pass by, and talked to him “May I borrow your textbook?”.
Without that encounter, they would not have become steadfast friends.
“The thing about being friends is that you have to work hard for it! It’s a must! If you want to make friends, no matter how scared you are, you have to approach! It’s impossible if you don’t talk!”
One has to approach another little by little. By repeating the same thing—both sides would get closer, understand each other, and finally become friends.
That was how Hikaru and Koremitsu became friends.
Hikaru was delighted to hear Koremitsu’s words—weeping as he heard them. He then slowly approached Kazuaki, speaking with a voice filled with tenderness,
“Brother…even if that girl in the had taken off that red dress and removed that wig, saying that we should go out, I would have nodded. I would also hold your hands and watch the Tulips.”
He spoke with an apprehensive, yet distinctively warm smile.
That was what Kazuaki had always dreamed of.
But even so, Kazuaki, being so obsessed with Hikaru, could not see the latter.
Kazuaki too was the same.
The same as the other girls who lost their light called Hikaru, sealed in the labyrinth of sighs.
Kazuaki continued to snivel.
“E-even if I do work hard now, my wish can no longer be fulfilled…because—Hikaru, he is already.”
Leave it to me. Koremitsu thought of his melancholic friend, and faced his friend, saying this.
Then, he yelled,
“I’ll be your friend in Hikaru’s stead! I’ll stay with you! What you did to Aoi, Tsuyako senpai and Yū was criminal, incorrigible things no human should be doing! I won’t forgive that! But after this, no matter what you do to me, I’m not going to ignore you, and I’m not going to run away! I’ll fight you head on and blow up a ruckus! If you dare make another mistake, I’m going to come over no matter where you are and stop you, yelling not to do it! The world may quietly accept your insolence, but I definitely won’t let it slide!”
Kazuaki, collapsed on the floor, looked up at Koremitsu in surprise.
“W-w-what are…you saying…?”
It seemed he was extremely bewildered, not knowing what to say.
Kazuaki was not the only one feeling that way; Asai and the others too were left dumbfounded.
Koremitsu reached out his hand.
First off, they started with an initial greeting.
“Be friends with me! If you want to see Tulips, I’ll go with you!”
Kazuaki’s teardrops, mixed with mascara, fell from the sullied eyes, his lips quivering. He wanted to spite, but could not eke out a voice.
Koremitsu grabbed Kazuaki’s right hand firmly, and pulled him up.
Kazuaki did not resist.
He held onto Koremitsu’s hand, and never let go, sobbing as the black hair covered his face like a curtain.
♢ ♢ ♢
Perhaps I been purposely limited myself in this little world till this point.
I did boast about, saying that I hope to make friends, but in fact, I was never able to do anything.
When I was shunned by the other boys and bullied by them, perhaps I should have taken the initiative to approach them instead.
I did not know when it started, but deep inside, I gave up on greeting them.
Koremitsu, until I met you.
I really wanted to get closer to you no matter what; I called for you, wanting you to turn back.
Ever since that moment, my world expanded.
Also, during the days I was with you, I experienced all kinds of things I had never experienced before realizing things I had been oblivious to.
I boasted, saying that I knew everything about girls; perhaps that is not the case.
Girls are certainly not people who are so feeble they need to be taken care of.
They dedicate themselves, able to proudly do the most foolish things for the ones they love.
Yes, flowers are not simply frail.
They are strong, and tender.
Humans love flowers, but flowers love humans too.
What do you think, Koremitsu?
You saw Yū’s determination.
You saw Miss Shikibu’s dedication.
Right now, the flower blooms within your heart—
Only you know the name of that flower.
But before you allow me to hear what it is from you, I too have something I wish to end.
No matter the outcome, I will not run away.
I want to share the history of my love, and my experiences when I was alive.
I wish to meet that Wisteria, understand the heart I had yet to.
So this is my final wish.
Can you accompany me?
Are you willing to witness everything until the very end?
While I am on this Earth—