The following day, during the morning of the rest day.
Kazuaki brought a cage with the chameleon in it, and arrived at Koremitsu’s house.
“This is what I feel. I do wish to marry this child I took utmost care of as your wife, Mr Akagi.”
The sparkling, expectant expression appeared as he said so bashfully. This sudden, drastic change in attitude was really a little terrifying, but Kazuaki forced the cage into Koremitsu’s hands.
“The name is Third Princess, you.know~it likes live crickets as food. It does not really show much of its feelings, but do take care of it well.”
One had to wonder if the chameleon in the transparent cage had feelings or not, let alone whether it could express its feelings. In the end, it spat its tongue out.
“H-hey, marry—I don’t have an interest in marrying reptiles…”
“You cannot accept my feelings? You are the one who asked to be friends after all.”
Kazuaki suddenly gave a despondent look as he brought his face over worriedly. At the same time, he shoved the cage onto Koremitsu.
“Well, not really. To suddenly hand me a chameleon here is…”
“But did you not adopt Yū’s cat here? If you can take in a cat, you can take in Third Princess, no?”
“I didn’t take Lapis in as a wife. And she’s with Tôjô now, not with me.”
“Well, cats are such frivolous beings after all. Third Princess is still a virgin in the palm of my hand now. Surely she will not veer away.”
“Virgin—ack, a female!? I can’t tell at all. Whatever, take it back.”
“Why must you refuse Third Princess? You do hate me after all, no? You were lying when you said you wanted to see the Tulips with me, right?”
“I say, that’s something completely different—”
(ARRRGGGGHHHH, this is really annoying me! Any ordinary guy would have refused it alright. Now he wants me to take over the chameleon?)
3 mere minutes of negotiations with Kazuaki was enough of a hassle for Koremitsu.
The previous night, he left Kazuaki, left a sobbing wreck, obedient, face covered in tears at the apartment, and returned home.
Asai remained silent the entire time, but when they left, she spoke with an icy tone,
“You really are a fool. You will definitely regret being Kazuaki’s friend.”
Aoi too sounded conflicted,
“Mr Akagi…I hope you do not get imprisoned by Mr Kazuaki, or be poisoned by him. Please be on your guard.”
She said worriedly. Tôjô too frowned.
“Be careful when making friends.”
He gave this solemn advice. Hiina herself looked delighted, chiming in,
“Do remember to inform me when you go see the Tulips. I’ll get you a photo to commemorate.”
Koremitsu broke away from Asai and the rest on the way back, and ended up being alone with Yū,
“Mr Kazuaki…is someone different…from what I thought…but I was, really lonely…when I didn’t have anyone around me to rely on…”
“Thus, I feel…it’s great that you’re willing to be his friend, Mr Akagi.”
“Yū, you don’t hate Kazuaki at all?”
Once Koremitsu asked this, Yū answered with her clear eyes.
“I suppose so. I guess…it really was a shock to me, but it was thanks to him that…I was able to meet you again, Mr Akagi.”
The fleeting smile appeared on the white, speckless face, and Koremitsu’s heart was gripped.
Yū showe a smile, but perhaps she was rather despondent.
“Erm, Mr Akagi, that promise about the date…is it still valid?”
After some hesitation, he answered, and then,
“I got a few things I want to ask you about, Yū.”
He gave her a serious look, and she gave a faint smile,
At that moment, Hikaru was at a place Koremitsu could not see, watching over the latter.
They sent Yū back to the hospital, and walked down the frrgid street in the middle of the night that was otherwise devoid of human presence.
—My final wish.
Koremitsu’s heart ached increasingly once Hikaru said that.
Surely, soon after, many things would come to an end.
“Hey, Mr Akagi, what is the matter~? You are lying to me after all, are you~? How cruel! How cruel of you~”
Koremitsu was harassed on the corridor as Kazuaki spoke with the same voice Hikaru had. The tranquil atmosphere that occurred the prior day was dissipated completely.
Hikaru chuckled in the air,
“Do accept it, Koremitsu. A chameleon will become cute once it starts feeding. Shiiko will have another new friend.”
And rambled irresponsibly.
(Who do you think is the one going to catch live crickets here!?)
But if Kazuaki was to continue harassing him, Masakaze would end up suspecting their relationship here. Any bystander hearing this would misunderstand that Koremitsu fooled another man.
(Good thing Shiiko isn’t at home.)
“Got it. This bride—well, leaving that aside, I’ll take her in. You fine with that?”
Once Koremitsu said that reluctantly, Kazuaki immediately sparkled,
“Yes! You are the best after all! So different from the rest!”
Koremitsu found Hikaru to be annoying at first when he was haunted, and the older brother too was rather annoying himself. You guys have the same blood after all Koremitsu stare at the cage grumpily, and Kazuaki again leaned forward.
“Ah, yes! Allow me to say this first. I did not write any one of those messages Asai and the rest talked about. The pranks done on Yū was by the receptionist her. I did affirm it myself, but the slut aiming to be my lover just went crazy because she was jealous of Yū. About the fire underground, all I did was to light the incense there, and it was not supposed to be that big…I did not intend to send Honoka Shikibu information about Yū that often. She was being active around her, so I thought I could use her, but I did not rile her intentionally. It is tragic if everything is blamed on me.”
Koremitsu stopped Kazuaki’s motor spiel, and asked with a sharp glare,
“Are you sure you didn’t send those messages?”
Kazuaki pouted his lips,
“Hm, that receptionist slut said she was ordered by my representative, that it was for my sake, crying when she said that. That really angered me.”
Koremitsu and Hikaru exchanged looks, and Hikaru’s face ffroze.
(Wait, Another Poppy!?)
Kazuaki was the one who sold the illegal drugs, but there was another mastermind who sent the messages and spread the seeds of discord amongst Koremitsu’s group.
Feeling cold sweat trickling down his back, Koremitsu continued to ask,
“You mean, till this point, not just this point? You never did send any messages slandering all the women related to Hikaru?”
“I say, I do not know anything. I will not like to a friend.”
Suddenly, the cellphone in Koremitsu’s pocket vibrated.
Koremitsu placed the cage in the corridor, checked the sender, and found it to be another anonymous message.
Once the message was shown on the screen, Koremitsu gasped.
♢ ♢ ♢
(Akagi said that he likes me…)
Honoka got up from the hospital bed, spacing out.
Her body showed no anomalies, and she should be discharged on this day.
But it seemed her mind was unable to function properly.
In the basement, she heard Koremitsu shout “I like you, Honoka Shikibu!” when embraced in his arms, and kept repeating the words in her mind.
Honoka Shikibu is not an ordinary classmate to me!!! She’s a woman I like!!!! Koremitsu exclaimed that with a serious look, and she felt that she could have dropped dead there without a single regret.
(It’s Akagi, s-so, he doesn’t like me as a lover, but as a friend, in a platonic manner, maybe…but even so, I’m happy.)
She could not be too hopeful about it.
But she wanted to drown in the happiness, the sensation of Koremitsu’s arm embracing her, the angry growl of a manly voice, while the image lingered in her mind.
Just when Honoka wanted to repeat the same sight in her mind again.
The ward door was opened, and a dreamy girl with long, faint wavy hair appeared.
While Honoka remained shocked, Koremitsu’s lover Yū Kanai appeared to be thinking of something, and she whispered,
“Miss Shikibu, I wish to talk to you…about Mr Akagi.”
♢ ♢ ♢
“What is it, Mr Akagi?”
While Koremitsu stared at the phone with a grim face, Hikaru paled as he watched from the side, shivering incessantly.
The words appearing on the little screen were what Hikaru wanted to hide with all his might; those were the perilous words that ruined everything.
“The child in Fujino Mikado’s belly is Lord Hikaru’s.”
♢ ♢ ♢
At a nearby park, Shioriko glared furiously.
“I never thought I would be called out by you, Shiiko. You really shocked me.”
“You’re the one who sent me messages saying that big brother Koremitsu lied to me, that he’s dealing with Kuze, right?”
The other party played dumb, widening her eyes.
“Eh, what’s with that?”
“When we met at the school, you told me ‘Mr Kuze may have caused you trouble, but do your best’. Even Miss Shikibu does not know about Kuze’s name. You knew that big brother Koremitsu didn’t go to school at that moment, and you sent the message to me, saying ‘Koremitsu Akagi went to meet Kuze’. You made me come to school to confirm, and doubt him.”
Once Shioriko said this, the other party narrowed her widened eyes, beaming,
“You’re an elementary school girl, Shiiko. You’re so smart though.”
“Why did you do that? What’s your aim?”
Shioriko wanted to discuss this with Koremitsu, but it seemed the latter was involved in something troublesome, so she did not want him to worry.
And also, the topic Shioriko was most sensitive about was that Kuze was her real father, so she missed the chance to talk.
“Don’t laugh, and tell me.”
The moment Shioriko’s tone became acrid, the other party pulled out a little canister, and sprayed it in front of her.
Shioriko wanted to hold her breath, but was unable to do. Her consciousness began to fade, and she slowly collapsed onto the floor.
Within her blurred vision was the girl acting as Koremitsu’s class representative, giving a demonic, alluring smile, saying,
“My other name is Rokujō.”