Bu, but, well, I think that it’s fine if there is at least one of this kind of troublesome person isn’t iiit.
Sporadically growing weeds, old stone walls, and a blue sky that looked discolored were spread out. Things other than those which entered the field of vision were only the laundry stand, a rusty drum can with uncertain usefulness, and also the granny bike with a punctured tire leaned listlessly on the stone wall.
(Nothing has changed other than Okaa-san’s bicycle huuh~)
On the porch, with the cry of cicadas and the refreshing sound of the wind chime as BGM, the one who was kicking her legs back and forth while staring into nothing in a daze ‘bohee~’ was the eldest daughter of this household――Hatayama Aiko.
That day, Aiko, who had managed to return from another world, received interrogations not just from police and mass media, but also by school officials and government officials that spanned many days. After all, she was the only adult among the group disappearance. Even if the students were talking about fantastical stories they had experienced, the ratio of sympathy toward them was high, but for Aiko who was a working adult, she was seen with a sterner gaze by the society.
Having said that, all of them had talked about it beforehand and the conclusion that they reached was to talk about the events in the other world Tortus as it was without changing anything; also, Aiko herself didn’t have the confidence that she could fabricate “a really convincing story” that could convince the surrounding. So in the end, she could only give an explanation with content that was the same as what the students were talking about, which made her feel really ashamed as a working adult.
Naturally, in regard to her inability to bring back some of her students and how the students became obsessed with “wild delusions”, even though in reality those weren’t Aiko’s responsibility at all, but a flow which was pressing the responsibility to Aiko was starting to appear.
That flow was powerful. Furthermore, even idiotic opinions which said that perhaps the disappearance itself was actually the full responsibility of Aiko was also beginning to appear.
It was an incident with too many mysteries. The culprit was unknown. Some students didn’t return. The returnee’s wild delusions. Because all these affairs wouldn’t settle down without someone taking responsibility, a scapegoat so to speak, it was Aiko who was chosen to hold that role.
Aiko, who was completely exhausted with various things every day, was carried away by the flow of the surrounding, and she tried to respond to the demand of the surrounding and wore the stigma as the person responsible for the group disappearance incident. She accepted the severe bashing and the end of her job as a teacher――no, the end of her social life. Seeing this, the parents of Aiko, who couldn’t bear to witness the figure of their daughter that was reported every day in the news, also came to persuade her to return home. That was also one of the primary factors that affected Aiko.
But, just when Aiko resolved to distance herself from her students’ side, suddenly the topic was going toward its end surprisingly and unnaturally; however, bizarrely no one thought that nothing was strange with this development.
The culprit of that was of course Hajime.
Using the internet and media, he manufactured a super large scale awareness manipulation artifact, and he forcefully and powerfully, without letting anyone complain, interfered with the consciousness of the people all over the world.
Aiko, who knew that, made a grandly convulsing expression and leaked out「What have you done……」. After all, what Hajime did was brainwashing on a world scale. An evil deed that would make even an evil organization of a story go ghastly pale.
But Hajime shrugged toward Aiko who was haggard in various senses.
「The world who put false accusations on you and made their own interpretation as they pleased is the bad one. Returning tit for tat at them is only the matter of course, isn’t it?」
In other words, the flow of society, who had laid their hands on Aiko, was Hajime’s enemy. He didn’t kill them, so at least they could obediently get brainwashed, was his reasoning. They tormented his relatives with their curiosity, irresponsible remarks, and so on, so it was a punishment they deserved.
As for Aiko, she couldn’t say anything anymore having those things said to her. It’s unforgivable for you to leave my side because of the irresponsible flow of society. The person she fell in love with said that to her. Because of that, he made the consciousness of the world into his own.
A demon king-sama to the extreme was here.
No matter what she said, it wouldn’t stop Hajime anymore.
Aiko’s shoulders dropped limply, even so, inside her heart she felt flattered, she felt light as though she was floating, yet inside her chest, she also felt so tiiiiight that she writhed.
And so, in the end, Aiko managed to get reinstated in the school where Hajime and the others were attending. Furthermore, there was also the administration’s plan that wanted the returnees to be lumped together, which even caused her to be employed as the homeroom teacher of the special class of Hajime and the others, the returnees. Thinking of how before the summoning she was just a teacher without a class in charge with, in a sense, she could have said to have risen up in life.
Now then, through this Aiko safely managed to get reinstated as a teacher without getting separated from her students who were more important than anything since they had entrusted their lives to each other in another world, but here, a dilemma arose.
That dilemma was,
――I am a teacher. Hajime-kun is a student……It’s too late already but-
Yes, now she clearly remembered the relationship between her and Hajime. Of course, after the legendary decisive battle, she had already spent many passionate nights together with Hajime, so that thinking was reaa~lly something too late already.
Still, however, now that they were here on earth and in Japan, when she actually returned to her teaching job and stood on the teaching podium, from there she saw the figure of the student Hajime in his seat……
――Me, what have you doneeeeeeee-. You laid your hand on a studenttttttt-
Like that, she rolled around on the floor when she was alone. Her personality that was too serious by nature, and her extraordinary sincerity toward the teaching profession, when she had returned to the normal everyday life and calmed down, those two aspects mercilessly pierced Aiko’s mind all over *gussa gussa* with spikes and gouged it *chiku chiku* with marking pens.
Naturally, she was starting to avoid Hajime, however, looking at him flirting with Yue and the others exacerbated her heartrending, but as expected her guilty feeling, and whatever else, became an obstacle that made her avoid Hajime completely……like that, a really troublesome person had arrived here.
These past few months, far from spending time with Hajime, she didn’t even properly talk with him. Hajime being Hajime, he was running around fighting the government officials of the world, manufacturing artifacts to make it easier to open the gate to the other world Tortus, opening a business in order to provide for Yue and the others with his own hands, and so on. Spending busy days like that, he didn’t even go to meet Aiko.
That was the true feeling of Aiko without any falsehood in it.
――But, a teacher and a student, it’s just……as expected……
That too was the true feeling of a troublesome person.
――As expected, Hajime-kun and I are……uu, there is also the difference in age……there is also my social standing……
That was the true feeling of a very troublesome person.
While worrying endlessly like that, ‘There are thoroughly charming girls already around Hajime, perhaps a middle-aged woman like me should withdraw away……’ she was getting closer to such a conclusion while using the summer holiday to return home, and she became a no-good human like this on the porch.
「Hey, Aiko. You are making a very stupid face there. Isn’t your soul leaking out from your mouth?」
「Even if it leaks out, it can be returned back to its place you know, Okaa-san.」
Indeed, something like that wasn’t any problem if the age of god magic was used, though it was a different story whether her mother could comprehend that or not.
While making an exasperated expression at her daughter’s dazed reply, Aiko’s mother――Akiko asked「You want some watermelon?」. Aiko rolled over lazily and without stopping she kept rolling to the table. It was a wordless answer of「I want」.
Aiko waited for a bit while bathing in the wind of the electric fan. Akiko arrived carrying a watermelon that had been cut into beautiful triangle shapes. It was cold, juicy, and looking delicious just from a glance. Aiko was messing with the watermelon seeds with the provided toothpick before she bit into the edge.
The gentle sweetness spreading inside her mouth slackened the expression of Aiko loosely. Her appearance was completely an elementary student……an extreme of being child faced. She really couldn’t be seen as an adult woman at the age of 26. Her awakening to magic power also, for some reason, put her skin condition in an extremely excellent condition, surely that was also a factor that showed a childish look in Aiko.
「……When you are like this, I cannot see at all that child whose face was shown a lot on TV who was involving herself with various tragic resolutions. 」
「Mass media is scary. Government officials are scary. Board of Education is scary……fighting god’s apostle was still better.」
「Indeed, perhaps rather than magic, the flow of the society that cannot be seen by eyes is more frightening isn’t it. But, isn’t that fine. You have the strongest prince, don’t you?」
「……Not prince Okaa-san. He is the devil. Rather, he is the demon king-sama.」
「Anything is fine, but stop delaying already, let Okaa-san meet with my daughter’s benefactor soon. Otou-san, and Ojii-chan, and the others too, they are totally curious, you know?」
「U, uu~m……well, I’ll think about it.」
Aiko’s halfhearted attitude caused Akiko to sigh exaggeratedly.
The composition of Aiko’s family was her two parents and the grandparents from the mother side. Her family was fruit farmers, with her father marrying into the family. Even now, that father was telling his daughter who came home for the summer holiday ‘if you are free then help out here~’, going out to work hard in the farm energetically.
Currently, or rather recently, such Hatayama family had a matter that they were really concerned about.
That was regarding Aiko’s “lover”.
That day, the day their daughter who disappeared together with students unexpectedly came home, naturally the members of Hatayama family who received the explanation of the situation didn’t believe Aiko at first, but when Aiko’s magic extremely improved the farmland of the Hatayama family, and their crops also became the highest class product, they believed in Aiko while saying ‘well whatever!’ to the trivial matter.
In the middle of their talk, although Aiko didn’t make any declaration, they understood that somehow their daughter seemed to have made a lover. That she was able to return back to Japan was also thanks to that “he”, and the unthinkable pacification of the kangaroo court which tried to denounce Aiko previously was also “his” doing.
If this person was their daughter’s benefactor and the person who her heart had decided on, then they wished to be introduced to him by all means, but, for some reason, Aiko was evasively avoiding that and didn’t listen to them.
They were suspicious that this person could possibly be a horrible person, but seeing the figure of their disappointing daughter who grinned from seeing the ring that was always dangling on her neck, smiling cheerfully when she looked at her smartphone, talking to someone on the phone with her feet kicking back and forth and her face love-struck, holding her red face between her hands while shaking her head when she suddenly recalled something while doing nothing, they could understand that she was thinking of the other party from the bottom of her heart.
The family of Aiko was worried in their own way about the future of their daughter whose growth stopped completely when she was in middle school for some reason and had no romantic story at all. Because of that, they were, even more, looking forward to being introduced to the person who was chosen by their daughter.
But, as expected, no matter how long, Aiko kept acting elusive……
「Good grief, if you are like this, then “he” will get away from you eventually, you know?」
Hearing the terrifying warning that was given by her mother regarding her relationship with him that she was currently worrying about, caused Aiko to spontaneously press her hand on her chest while a moan slipped out from her mouth.
「Even though you finally came home, you are just in a daze the whole day without even helping around the home. After all, you are worrying endlessly about “him” and ran away using going home as an excuse, right? Ah, or else, perhaps “he” actually already got away from you and you returned here because of heartbreak……」
「What are you saying, Okaa-san? That, I, don’t really have a, lo, lover or anything……」
Aiko averted her gaze, her volume turned smaller, and she toyed with the watermelon seed in high speed.
For Aiko, she understood her family’s wishes for her to introduce “him” ――Hajime. But, as expected, their relationship of teacher and student made it difficult to speak about even toward her family. No, it was extremely difficult exactly because they were family……
Inside her heart she was whispering「He is not my lover, I’m already treated as his wife, so I’m not lying……」which sounded like an excuse, making her have a vivid resemblance with someone somewhere.
「……Well, that’s fine. I guess you also have various things on your mind, and you are not a kid anymore. But, just remember that no matter what kind of person “he” is, we will welcome him warmly any time.」
In the end, Akiko backed down, and the hand of Aiko that was playing with the seed slackened a bit. Akiko was smiling wryly at her daughter who was oozing out a relieved air while changing the topic.
「Speaking of, there is a festival this year too. It’s good timing, how about you try to change into yukata? You haven’t gone there anymore for these last few years, right? You loved Yamashiro-ojiisan’s cotton candy, didn’t you?」
「Yeah, now that Okaa-san mentions it, it’s this time……wait, Yamashiro-ojiichan, he is still alive……」
「You are really rude.」
「Because, when I was in high school if I remember correctly, he was already past 90 years old, right?」
「Yes, this year he will be 102 years old you know.」
「At, at that age, he is still opening a festival stand? Is he okay? He won’t ascend to heaven while making cotton candy?」
「You are really rude. Even now he is still lively. Even the person himself said that he would live for thirty more years.」
「He is planning to challenge even the Guinness record?」
Despite the silly talk, in the end, Aiko decided to participate in the nostalgic local festival, also for relaxing the gloominess inside her chest.
In the evening, when the beautiful sunset was about to disappear behind the mountains on the other side of the river, Aiko was at the front door with her body wrapped in a pink yukata. In her hand was a small and cute pouch, with her feet wearing refreshing Japanese sandals. When she was wearing a yukata, to some extent, a unique charm could be felt from her usual childish figure; perhaps that was because she was a Japanese.
「You are really going alone?」
Akiko asked while tilting her head.
「Yep. I’ll just aimlessly wander there. Otou-san and the others are also helping there, so I’ll show my face at their place for a bit.」
「I see……even if this place is in the sticks that doesn’t mean that there aren’t idiots, so be careful. Especially because on the day of the festival there are also people who cut loose too much.」
「I understand. Rather, after everything that happens, the likes of hoodlums really won’t matter much.」
「Don’t be conceited. If you like, should I call Taichi-kun to go with you?」
「Geez-, I’m really fine. Besides, Taichi-kun will be angry if he is called for something like this, you know?」
The one called Furukawa Taichi was a young man who, as it were, was Aiko’s childhood friend. In the past, the houses of the Furukawa family and the Hatayama family were close to each other. Since their farms were next to each other, the two families were closely associated. Taichi and Aiko also went to the same school all the time from kindergarten up to high school, so he was her trusted friend.
There was also a time when they temporarily distanced themselves from each other because of this and that at the puberty period. When they grew into adults they also never became a couple, but their relationship after that was friendly enough that met when they both came back here in an extended vacation where they would have a chat.
Taichi graduated from a university in another prefecture, and he immediately got a job at a company. But his father was hospitalized for a time, and he resigned from his job where he then succeeded his family’s farm about a year and a half ago. And so, in the festival this time around he was recruited as one of the young peoples’ group to help around……
「Is that so? I think that if it’s Taichi-kun, he will rush here happily though. Well, asking him to do that is too harsh perhaps.」
「That’s right. Taichi-kun is good-natured, but, as expected, he will get angry if he is taken advantage of too much.」
「That’s not what I mean though……well, that’s not where a parent should stick her nose into.」
Aiko tilted her head at her mother’s suggestive words, but Akiko didn’t look like she planned to talk more than that, so Aiko turned around and departed toward the festival.
She walked calmly on the familiar country road. Compared to the city, this place was accompanied with colors like the stars of the night sky, which were exceptionally visible, illuminating the path at night, the frogs staying on the fields, and the chorus of the cicadas burning their life on the trees.
(Although, as expected, the clearness of the air cannot compare with Tortus……)
What was revolving in the back of her mind while she was muttering to herself was her days in another world. Even amidst those memories, the one that she recalled vividly due to how dramatic it was, was……that reunion, that undesired result, and then the kiss that saved her life.
There was also when she was imprisoned by god’s apostle Nointo. For her to be captured at the top of a tall tower, it was as though she was a princess in a tale. And then, he came for her who was in depression from anxiety and impatience, and that battle at the altitude of 8 kilometers.
She exposed her unsightly appearance after the result that she caused, and not only was that shameful figure of her seen, she was even looked after by him.
After that, the words that he conferred to her beside the cenotaph was something that Aiko surely wouldn’t forget for her whole life. If the rescue drama before that was a salvation for her physical body, then the event in front of the cenotaph that evening was unmistakably the salvation for her heart. Thinking back, she was captured by an ardor that she couldn’t deceive herself from anymore since that time.
And then, with the battle at the devil king’s castle, and going through the legendary decisive battle……the gifted object. As the result of her attack after she let loose all her restraints, he let out a smile that looked as though he gave up, or possibly it was a troubled smile; and then to prove that Aiko was his――that she belonged to the demon king, he gifted her with a ring.
Aiko crawled her fingers on the thing behind her yukata, at the ring that was connected with a chain dangling behind the chest part of the yukata.
And then what she remembered was, the this and that of the night, that she thought might be staying unrelated with herself for her whole life, with how herself was a shorty. Just by remembering it she was still getting bright red. That was, that was……done too much.
On the night path, Aiko fidgeted around while getting red-faced by herself. Seen from the side, she looked just like a suspicious person.
Even though she was getting like this so much, with her head suddenly getting full with Hajime even without anything particular happening, but the person herself was still harboring conflict (lol) inside her heart, worrying whether it was okay to continue this relationship. That was why if the wives’ group heard this they would undoubtedly get exasperated.
In the other world, she was titled a goddess and splendidly incited the people, this female teacher, who stood up against even the kingdom and the pope of the biggest religion for the sake of her students, was, in fact, a troublesome person that was super awkward when it came to love.
「Ai? What are you doing?」
Suddenly a voice called out to her which caused Aiko to hop up *pyon* for real. Complete with a strange voice. Her face turned bright red in a different meaning this time while she turned her gaze toward the direction of the voice. There, she found a tall and sturdy young man, wearing a T-shirt with short sleeves in which the sleeves were further rolled up to his shoulder.
「Ta, Taichi-kun……don’t shock me like that.」
「No, Ai who was making a hundred comical faces alone in the road at night was the one who shocked me there……」
This young man, who was scratching on his cheek while calling Aiko with the pet name “Ai”, was just as Aiko called him, the person named Furukawa Taichi.
「Forget that……rather than that, Taichi-kun yourself, what are you doing in this kind of place? Aren’t you helping with the festival?」
「Aa~, no, I was but……because Ai said that you were coming. See, stupid bunches are also coming out in this kind of day yeah.」
「By any chance, you are intentionally coming here to pick me up?」
「We, well yeah.」
「Is that so, fufu, thank you.」
Aiko felt somewhat warm with Taichi’s nonchalant “good person act” that she knew from the past, and she smiled while expressing her thanks. Seeing that, for some reason, the young man Taichi quickly turned aside his face while his hand covered his mouth. When Aiko got curious「Oh? What’s the matter?」and circled around to look at his face, Taichi turned around hastily, and he walked toward the festival while urging Aiko ahead.
「Co, come to think of it, yukata. You are wearing it, huh?」
It was a somewhat sudden change of topic, but Aiko responded to the talk without being particularly bothered by it.
「Yep. The atmosphere is important in this kind of event. This is also the festival after so long that I rarely attended.」
「I see, you are right. …………That, what to say, it suits you.」
「Is that so? Thank you.」
Aiko responded to Taichi’s praise frankly, a little bit too frankly, by saying a normal thanks. She wasn’t at the age where she would be greatly concerned with words like that. ……Although that also depended on who was the one saying it.
Taichi felt a bit down, even so, he continued making trifling talk with his trusted friend, including reminiscent talk. Those two finally entered the busy festival and crowd of people.
There, the neighborhood uncle and aunt that knew the two of them since they were young bantered with them. Aiko clearly declared that the two of them were not in that kind of relationship even while responding calmly. Seeing such an Aiko caused Taichi’s cheeks to cramp. Seeing that situation, his comrades from the young persons’ association sent him a gaze that was mixed with sympathy……
Old man Yamashiro displayed his artistic skill that was pointlessly polished by making a Michaelangelo statue using cotton candy. Then the two of them encountered a female classmate of Aiko, who also brought along a child. Seeing that caused Aiko to hold a really complicated feeling, and when that classmate told Aiko that if she also married then~ half teasingly. The matter of Hajime floated inside her head which caused Aiko to turn a bit red though, and she didn’t speak any denial, which in turn caused Taichi to get pointlessly fired up……
And, with various things like that Aiko enjoyed a lot the festival that she hadn’t attended for a while.
With the festival, which was still lively, in the background, Aiko sat down on the porch of the shrine ground to rest while she was at it. Beside her there was Taichi who even though he was supposed to be a member of young persons’ association, he had been following Aiko all the time while she was walking around the festival; even now, he showed no sign of going to help at the festival.
In the silent atmosphere, Aiko was dangling her legs back and forth while listening to the bustling of the festival and looking up to the night sky. It was in the height of summer, but the shrine ground had a nice open space for wind, in which the night breeze felt pleasant on her skin which was damp from sweat.
Taichi was looking at Aiko, who had narrowed her eyes due to feeling good from the wind, with a dazed gaze……a beat later, he returned to his senses suddenly, and he slapped his own cheek. *pan-* That nice dry sound made Aiko startled, and she turned her gaze there.
Taichi opened his mouth, looking somewhat nervous toward such Aiko.
「Hey, Ai. Recently, are you okay? See, just a bit before there were various things that happened, right?」
「Yep, I’m fine. It’s over already. Right now, I’m a teacher normally.」
「I see. But, the class that Ai is in charge of, it’s that class, isn’t it? Then, won’t there still be a time when Ai would have to take the full brunt of the trouble?」
「……What do you want to say?」
Taichi’s gaze wandered from the dubious Aiko; however, right after that, he looked at Aiko with firm eyes and spoke.
「Isn’t it, enough already? You have, already, worked hard enough for your students’ sake, don’t you think so?」
「That’s why, just like Obaa-san and the others were saying before……come back home here already.」
Aiko didn’t answer, as though she didn’t want to respond to that topic, and then she stood up and started to walk toward the festival. Toward such Aiko, Taichi added on to his words looking impatient.
「It’s not like, you need to be at that place if you want to be a teacher, right? You can also try to find a job here.」
「That’s not why. I also have a responsibility, and above all, I myself, want to be at the side of those children.」
「Then, when those children graduate, what then?」
「That’s……but, even though that kind of incident happened, the school still trusted me enough to take charge of the class. I’m indebted to them.」
「That’s only because they want to gather the returnees in one place, right? Rather, if the current children graduate, you won’t know whether you can continue to stay there, don’t you? If it’s Ai, your face is widely known here, it’s convenient if you live here, and you also have connections to a certain degree that can help you.」
「Perhaps that is so but……that’s, still in the future.」
Aiko’s complicated attitude finally made Taichi irritated, and he stood up vigorously.
「……What Ai is concerned about, is actually not something like your duty to the school, or your responsibility to your students, am I right?」
「What Ai is concerned about……is actually the matter of your lover, isn’t it?」
「Wai-, what are you saying……I, something like a lover is……」
「The one who thinks that it’s a secret is just Ai. Obaa-san and the others, me, we all know. That in the middle of your disappearance Ai made a lover. And also, how that lover is……your student.」
Aiko went「How do you!?」, an action that was really easy to understand. Seeing that act of Aiko’s, which was too honest in a sense, Taichi continued his words while his expression turned complicated.
「There is no way we wouldn’t know. Since the past, Ai is just too poor at hiding a secret. It immediately comes out in your behavior. Besides, even after you returned back you frequently contacted someone, you made a lover while you disappeared, yet it wasn’t a relationship that you could introduce to your parents, it must be a relationship that stimulates your guilt or morality by continuing it……When you searched for the answer that satisfies all those requirements, then it can be nothing but a student.」
「……Taichi-kun. Since when did you become a detective?」
Taichi said「I told you, it’s not just me, Obaa-san and the others also know that」toward Aiko who was stunned. When Aiko realized that the secret was actually exposed to her mother too, she was finally at her wits end with her hands holding her head.
Seeing such Aiko, Taichi resolved himself and spoke.
「A relationship between a student and teacher……you understand, don’t you Ai?」
「Ai yourself, you are feeling tortured like that. I don’t know what happened in the middle of your disappearance, but surely that was just how much of an abnormal situation it was, right? Then, that was just your momentary loss of judgment. I don’t care about that.」
Taichi approached Aiko, and he stared at her fixedly with a serious gaze. Aiko took a step back from being overwhelmed, but when Aiko drew away, then Taichi would also close the distance accordingly.
「Ai, let’s stop that kind of impure relationship already, and come back here and start from zero. At first, it might feel lonely, but……I will be at your side from here on.」
「Taichi-kun, what are you saying……」
「I told you that I returned here because of my father’s sickness, but actually that wasn’t it. My father’s sickness was healed in one week……the truth is, when Ai disappeared, I felt uneasy, I couldn’t even focus on my work, and so, I resigned from my work to search for you full time.」
「Was, was that why?」
Aiko’s eyes turned round from this truth she didn’t know. And then, now that Taichi had spoken that far, then even the dull Aiko could guess just with what kind of feeling Taichi had been speaking about until now. That fact made Aiko astonished precisely because she had never thought of that possibility for even a bit until now.
「When I heard that Ai was gone, I thought that my heart got crushed. At that time, I noticed it. For me, Ai is, an existence that is that important to me.」
「Ta, Taichi-kun, fo, for now, let’s calm down a bit?」
「I am calm. Ai, come home. And then, marry me. I will treasure you, so be together with me forever!」
「No no, wait a bit! That’s too sudden! I, am not thinking of Taichi-kun like――」
「You relationship with your lover, it’s not going well, right?」
「There is no way it’s going well. The other party is just a student. There is no way he can make Ai happy. If it’s me, I have seceded my house and also have resourcefulness, even my age matches yours. It will absolutely go well between us.」
Aiko’s back was already glued closely to a pillar of the shrine ground. The approaching Taichi suddenly tightly grasped the shoulders of Aiko. Taichi’s eyes had a seriousness that Aiko had never seen in them until now; they were overflowing with sincerity, including passion, so hot it was scalding.
If Aiko didn’t have a lover, yes, if this was before she was summoned to the other world, depending on the situation, her heart might be stolen even if she thought nothing of him until now except as someone like a brother. That was just how much of a “man” her childhood friend, who she thought she knew, was to her. As for his speech, she couldn’t help but feel that it was somewhat hurting but……or rather, now that she thought calmly, it was a bit, but it felt like a somewhat dangerous pick-up line……
But, even now when that much feeling was expressed to her, what floated in the back of Aiko’s mind was, the matter of him……
The name that unintentionally leaked out in a small murmur caused Taichi to frown, but in the next moment, he tried to close his distance with Aiko in one go. Perhaps he intended to return his beloved woman to her sanity from the impure relationship she was imprisoned in, even if he had to take a little forceful method……or perhaps, it might be simple jealousy……
The shocking situations that happened in succession, and her mind that was split between her feelings toward him, caused Aiko to react late. She immediately tried to twist her body, but…..behind her was a pillar, both her shoulders were pinned down, it wasn’t that she couldn’t shake herself free but, it was unclear whether she would be able to avoid from injuring Taichi!
Therefore, even while she was putting on strength to the level that was a bit dangerous for normal people, spontaneously, inside her heart, she yelled asking for help.
「What is it Aiko?」
Taichi and Aiko leaked out similar voices, and then before Taichi’s approach could reach Aiko, or rather before he could get blown away by Aiko, he stopped. No, he was stopped. His neck was grabbed tightly from behind.
*meri-* An unpleasant sound could be heard.
「-, who, who are you-. What are you doing-」
「Oi oi, that’s my line you know? Just what are you doing to my woman?」
Right after that, Taichi’s figure vanished. No, he was sent flying backward with a force to the degree that it looked like he vanished. It seemed that his neck didn’t bend a strange direction or anything due to the superb moderation of power. But, he was fiercely sent flying to the ground where he rolled many times, the impact made him cough fiercely.
With a sidelong glance at such Taichi, Aiko was flustered while she stared at the person before her eyes feeling dumbfounded.
「Yeah, it’s me.」
「Wh, why, are you here?」
「Because, Aiko is here?」
「No, even if you are saying something like a mountain climber somewhere with a question mark like that……」
Hajime smiled wryly seeing Aiko at a loss.
「Recently, you looked like you were thinking too much about various things. We also didn’t really have time to talk, on top of that you came home here. I thought it would be troublesome if you were persuaded by your parents to make an annoying decision, and because of that so I planned to visit here. And, when I used the compass to move here, you were in the middle of some kind of festival, right? I thought that by some chance, you were going around the festival feeling lonely by yourself, so I flew here but……the result turned out all right in the end.」
Hajime’s eyes narrowed dangerously toward Taichi who was standing up and glaring at Hajime even while coughing. Seeing that, even while feeling happiness welling up inside from understanding that Hajime was worried for her and he rushed here to spend some festival time with her, she also felt intense shame and fretfulness because her figure that was approached by someone else just now was seen by Hajime.
「U, um, that’s not what you think! There is, nothing like that going on between Taichi-kun and me! I don’t, have any intention like that at all!」
「Aa~, yeah, I see……」
Taichi, who was walking toward them, went「Gahah」with his hand pressing on his chest. Seeing that figure caused Hajime to make an expression where he was unsure of what to say. The woman he liked denied him with all her strength――indeed, hearing that would make anyone press on their chest spontaneously.
「But, recently you were worried a lot about your relationship with me, right? Perhaps you were worrying endlessly when we became student and teacher once more……it’s already really too late to think like that.」
This time, Aiko was the one who pressed her chest. Her gesture really resembled her childhood friend. That fact made Hajime’s wry smile deepen while he suddenly circled behind Aiko and embraced her. 「Ha, Hajime-kun!?」or「You-」could be heard, but Hajime ignored it.
Hajime kept embracing Aiko while he talked with a voice that was oozing a bit of exasperation into her ear.
「Even this relationship that Aiko is worried about will resolve itself not even two years later. Even so, if you are bothered with that two years, then both of us just need to hold back until that time arrives, right? If Aiko wishes for it, then I won’t mind something that small.」
「A, u, that’s……bu, but, I, am far older than you……」
「……Aiko, I’m telling you this for your own good. Just absolutely don’t say those words in front of Yue. You don’t want to have air travel ten kilometers high with your flesh body, do you?」
Thinking really really carefully, something like a difference of age……above the sky there was still sky. It was something that she must not speak of no matter what.
「Good grief. Humans are a living thing that will think of various stupid things the moment they calm down, and Aiko is the very model of that kind of human huh. On top of it already being too late for that, it’s a problem that can be resolved easily. For you to become irresolute due to that……if you are that much fixated on “being a teacher”, then you at least have to be like how you were once before, where you remonstrate even me.」
「Uu, I have nothing I can say……」
「Or rather……just who do you think I am, huh? When I accepted Aiko, I should have declared it already.」
Aiko recalled. One month after the legendary decisive battle, when she wished that she also wanted to be loved by Hajime. There, she was accepted, on top of what was presented――the term of demon king-sama.
――When I decide to accept you, there won’t be any getting away.
There was no concept of “parting” for the woman of the demon king. Even if Aiko herself hated it, Hajime wouldn’t let her get away, no matter what kind of situation there was. It was impossible for him to accept any woman other than his beloved while there was any possibility of parting. That was the minimum distinction of Hajime who was someone preposterous and the worst from keeping relationships with multiple women.
The only one he could accept was only a partner who could offer her whole life to him and vice versa.
Therefore, it was meaningless for Aiko to worry about ethics, common sense, or whatever because Aiko had already offered that body and heart of hers to the demon king.
And the consequence was, that she couldn’t get away from demon king-sama.
Just with a sentence, when Hajime questioned her, Aiko easily surrendered. She nodded up and down repeatedly with her face bright red.
There, Taichi directed a severe gaze at Hajime who was still embracing Aiko from behind and opened his mouth.
「……You. Get away from Ai. You are, if I’m right, you are Ai’s student, aren’t you? I guess you don’t understand because you are still a student, but your existence is hurting Ai. This world is not so sweet that you can make it somehow with just feeling――」
「Thanks for the warning. But, You have mistaken the process too much to put on air as an adult with good sense. Your persuasiveness is nonexistent at the point of time you are reaching out your hand toward someone else’s woman. If you weren’t Aiko’s childhood friend, then I’d do the Inugami family to you but……well, this time I’ll magnanimously overlook it. Give up on Aiko and search for another suitable wife.」(TN: About Inugami family. I tried to google it, but the only thing I can find is a mystery novel about serial killing.)
Having a man that was younger, furthermore, someone that was still a student, talking back to him so frankly caused Taichi’s mouth to open and close wordlessly. And then, with a complexion that was busily turning blue and red intermittently, he was about to yell angrily at Hajime,
Yet he turned speechless due to the coquettish voice that Aiko raised and the spectacle happening in front of his eyes. Of all things, Hajime was thrusting his hand behind the chest part of Aiko’s yukata before his hand started to grope around! What an act! It was truly like a demon!
Then Hajime casually took out a ring that had been turned into a necklace from Aiko’s chest. Aiko, who had something embarrassing done to her in front of her childhood friend that was already like family to her, glared at Hajime with teary eyes + upward glance, but Hajime warded off something like that like a willow swaying in the wind.
「Understand that we are already at a stage where words won’t do anything. Just as you see, rather than my lover, Aiko is already my wife. Her body, her heart, I have received them all.」
Hajime’s speech was completely like the villain. No matter how anyone looked at this, this was a composition of a gentle and sincere young man having his childhood friend snatched away by a bad man. The speech that Aiko could say in this kind of time should be「Stop-, don’t fight each other because of meee!」as expected. Although, the moment Aiko said such a thing, she would surely receive Hajime’s iron claw of love.
Taichi was about to condemn Hajime along with his emotion that felt like erupting, but before that could happen Hajime threw his words at him with a cold expression.
「You reap what you sow.」
「You should have a powerful weapon that I don’t have. You have time and the same living environment that you spent together with Aiko since childhood, and even after you two became adults you must have met her many times too since then, isn’t that right? You should have had so many chances to exchange your feelings with Aiko, but you passed up all those chances. Don’t make any excuses now. You couldn’t even become a “reason to go home” for Aiko to give no place in her heart to go toward me. You didn’t try. The result of that is this. That’s all there is to it.」
That was a sound argument. Snatched away――such a thing was a serious case of barking up the wrong tree. While Taichi was in a position that was closer to Aiko than anyone, he didn’t fight so that he could walk together with her. That was why, before he realized it, Aiko had been at a place so far that his hand couldn’t reach. That was all there was to it.
Talking like this was strangely remonstrating considering it was Hajime. He crushed his enemy mercilessly, and if it was someone who he couldn’t stomach, then he would ignore that person without speaking too much. When that person couldn’t be ignored, then, as expected, he would crush them. That was Hajime. It was unusual for him to speak like this to someone who had tried to place their hand on Aiko.
Looking carefully, even though Taichi got thrown away that showily just now, there was no wound on him which looked that serious.
(Because he is my childhood friend……)
That must be the reason.
Aiko changed her embarrassed expression and raised a tightly stiffened face. And then, she softly untangled from Hajime’s hand that was hugging her tightly. Hajime didn’t oppose her.
Aiko took a step forward and calmly opened her mouth.
「Taichi-kun, thank you for worrying about me a lot. Thank you, that you think of me so strongly.」
「But, I cannot answer Taichi-kun’s feeling. I, cannot look at Taichi-kun like that.」
「……Because of that, you are with that guy――」
「Yes. Because the one I have feelings for is Hajime-kun. I was worried about a lot of things but……yes, it’s really too late already for that. I even think to myself just what in the world I am doing worrying like that.」
「……Society won’t tolerate it. That’s something that must not be done.」
「Yes, I know. But, I cannot help it. Because the person I fell in love with is hopelessly like a demon, let alone the society, even the world or the god are no match for him. I too am a wicked woman huh.」
「……Wicked woman. Those words don’t suit Ai the most.」
「But, I think that’s not bad.」
「Haa, is that so. So it’s just like that guy said, from the beginning, it’s “too late” already for me.」
Aiko smiled wryly as though to state her agreement.
Taichi glared fiercely at Hajime. Hajime accepted it with an unruffled face. Understanding that something like his glare wouldn’t shake this guy even a little, and then, having the painful sound argument thrown at him just now, on top of how his body was thrown before this, showed him that he couldn’t even possibly match this guy in physical strength. Strength abruptly left his shoulders after glaring at Hajime for a while.
And then, he wordlessly turned around and left the shrine ground.
「My bad. Perhaps your relationship with your childhood friend will be bad after this……」
「No, it’s fine. Perhaps, it will take a bit of time, but we will be able to return back to our brother-sister relationship again.」
「Then that’s fine……but, as expected, if he reaches his hand to Aiko one more time, then I won’t have the confidence to not do the Inugami family to him.」
「……Why, are you that obsessed with the Inugami family?」
Aiko smiled wryly at Hajime’s manner of speaking, then a beat later, she faced straight at Hajime once again. And then, she bowed her head.
「I’m sorry that I made you worry because of me worrying irresolutely about strange things. Thank you for coming to meet me today.」
「Yeah, I definitely had received both your gratitude and apology. But, don’t mind it too much. I said it before too, but I really like that part of Aiko.」
「Hee? Tha, that part?」
The unexpected word of “like” made Aiko become red once more. Toward such Aiko, Hajime said that before in front of the cenotaph of the Hairihi Kingdom, he thought that Aiko who was worrying there looked dazzling to him, and then he asked her whether she remembered what they talked about there. That was what Aiko remembered just not long ago. It was clearly etched in her memory; surely it was an important memory when her feeling toward Hajime became definite.
「You who was running forward swiftly with all your might, and then you who was holding your head when you failed or when you noticed your contradiction; but even so you endured it and found a conclusion in your own way which you tried to carry through. I found those parts of Aiko dazzling; those parts look really lovely to me. That’s why Aiko, you can stay just as you are.」
「……I think it’s foul play for you to say something like that.」
Aiko turned around with her back toward him, her face looking down so Hajime couldn’t see it. But even without seeing that face, it was easily imaginable that her face was becoming complicated with shame and delight.
Perhaps because he understood that Hajime made an expression that was delicately holding back his laugh. Really what a bad guy.
「Now then, let’s go to Aiko’s house. I have to give my greeting to your parents.」
Those sudden words that were said aloud so suddenly with a light tone as though asking her to go to some convenience store for a bit caused Aiko to go ‘hah’ and she turned around toward Hajime.
「It looks like your worry is resolved already, so there is no more reason that you cannot introduce me, right? If I have to greet them sooner or later, then I’ll at least show my face to them while also sending you home. It is late already, so I’ll do the formal greeting once more tomorrow.」
「A, as always, what proactiveness……n, no, you know, the greeting can be done next time……I too need to prepare my heart……」
「Hmm, Aiko’s house is over there……oh? So your father and the others are going out to the festival. They are right nearby. Yosh, let’s spend some money while greeting them at the same time.」
「Ah, wait, don’t use something like the compass for this! Wait, please don’t ignore me and go off like that! Just what in the world are you planning to say to Otou-san and the others!?」
「Of course, I’ll say “Otou-san, I accept your daughter. I won’t accept any objection or refusal”. That’s the standard speech, right?」
「The standard where-!?」
「Or rather, Aiko. I’m bothered, just why are you speaking using polite language to me while you spoke casually to that bastard? Isn’t that cruel?」(TN: Aiko has been using polite language all this time with Hajime while using peer language when she talked to Taichi.)
「Eh? That’s, it’s about the atmosphere or something……wait, don’t change the subject! There is a lot of my acquaintances here from the paaast! If you are saying something like that to Otou-san in this kind of place……tomorrow all the neighbors will know it!」
「If you properly talk casually with me too then I’ll think about it. ……Well, the time extension won’t even be one minute for you to decide though. Oh, that’s your father, isn’t it? The first impression is important. First of all, let’s binge shop the stall’s goods.」
「Please wait! Wait, wait……I get it! I get it already! I’ll properly talk to you without polite language so don’t keep walking rapidlyyy!」(TN: Here finally Aiko didn’t use polite language.)
Aiko who was making racket ‘gyaa gyaa’, and Hajime was handling her unseriously while charging toward the direction of her family with a fearless smile on his face. Naturally, Aiko was clinging to Hajime’s arm while Hajime was advancing while carrying such Aiko in his arm, and coupled with their noisiness the degree of attention to them was at MAX!
The madams of the neighborhood, and the old people who were affectionate to Aiko, they all went「Oh my!」seeing the two’s situation.
And then, finally, the father of Aiko, who noticed Hajime walking toward him with his daughter in his arms, opened his eyes widely, expressing his shock, then he smiled wryly as though he had comprehended something.
After that, Hajime, who loudly proclaimed that he was Aiko’s boyfriend right in the middle of the festival that was overflowing with Aiko’s acquaintances, was awarded clapping and the cheering of hooray. Hajime kept restraining Aiko, who was trying to run away from shame, with a princess carry and was causing cheers to be raised.
Furthermore, it was supposed to be only Hajime showing his face, but with Aiko’s father and grandfather inviting him to come to their house no matter what, Hajime visited the Hatayama house and also met with Akiko and the grandmother. Then he talked to them about his wives other than Aiko and his intention.
With everything that happened at the Shirasaki family and the Yaegashi family, Hajime had resolved himself to be slapped with rejection and rage for sure, but unexpectedly both Aiko’s parents, and even her grandparents, all the people of the Hatayama family accepted Hajime. Of course, it wasn’t like they weren’t frowning, but with the feeling of wanting to respect the will of their daughter who was already an adult, and above all, their debt of gratitude to Hajime because he had saved their daughter from danger many times, it seemed that it led to their trust for Hajime.
In the end, due to the kindness of the Hatayama family, it became a course of event where Hajime stayed for the night, and by using gate the next day, the people of the Nagumo family also visited the Hatayama family, where the words of Yue and the others which said “together with Aiko” promoted the trust to grow even deeper.
After that, it was as though the Hatayama family and the Nagumo family became like a family group but……
As a result, Aiko’s hometown became well-known as the “Land of Miracle” where every kind of crop could bear fruit regardless of the soil quality or the season. Surely that was due to the mixing of the family of “Goddess of Harvest” and the family of “Demon King of Another World”……
AN: Thank you very much for reading this every time.
Thank you very much too for the thoughts, opinions, and reports about misspelling and omitted words.
Actually, I also planned to write the reason why Aiko is fixated on being a teacher, but there wasn’t any time, and I couldn’t think of any idea. Despite so, when I began to write thinking [Anyway if I just write then perhaps I’ll think of something…], this kind of Aiko was created……
Well, continuing from before, Shirakome’s condition is a bit bad, so I’m thinking of getting a change of pace.
Even though I say that I’m writing a bit of a longer extra story.
I’m thinking ‘Should I promote him to a main character I wondeeer~’.
Remember, it’s him you know, him. Come on, his name is……eh?If you find any errors ( broken links, non-standard content, etc.. ), Please let us know so we can fix it as soon as possible.