Chapter 9: The Calm Before the Storm–
Passing through the cave, we arrived at a ruined town. And just when she had a bad premonition, a massive amount of yakuma descended on them.
In the midst of that, Masamune discovered an important clue.
Parting from Masamune-san and the others, I returned to my own room.
When I closed the sliding screen, Imari-kun’s sleeping body twitched in my arms–
.[IMARI]: “… Nhn, ngh… huh?”
[YUZUKI]: “Ah, Imari-kun, sorry for waking you.”
[IMARI]: “No, don’t worry. More importantly–“
[IMARI]: “I’m sorry. I wasn’t much help this time.”
[YUZUKI]: “No, I’m glad you weren’t hurt, Imari-kun.”
When I said that and smiled, Imari-kun also showed a faint smile but–
[IMARI]: “Ah! That reminds me, is your leg okay?”
At that point, realization came to me.
[YUZUKI]: (I was hurt when we were going to the Uesugi territory. And then, because things kept happening one after another, I completely forgot about it.)
[YUZUKI]: “Mm, it’s okay already. It still hurts a bit, but look the bleeding’s stopped–“
[???]: “Excuse me, are you available?”
[YUZUKI]: (This voice is Kojuurou-san?)
[YUZUKI]: “Yes, it’s okay.”
[KOJUUROU]: “Then, excuse my intrusion.”
[KOJUUROU]: “I apologize for intruding when you’re tired, but I was concerned about the condition of your injury.”
[YUZUKI]: “It’s okay already. Thanks to you treating it, Kojuurou-san, it doesn’t hurt much at all.”
[KOJUUROU]: “I see… I am glad to hear that. It was only a temporary treatment, so I worried whether it had worsened or not…”
Kojuurou-san had an unusually worried expression and, after saying that, he straightened his back and lowered his head to me.
[KOJUUROU]: “… In our expedition this time, you were put through many dangerous situations. I apologize… for lacking in strength.”
[YUZUKI]: “Please don’t apologize for such a thing. It was my own fault that my leg was hurt…”
[YUZUKI]: “And, instead, I had to be protected during all these dangers so I’m the one who should be saying thanks.”
[YUZUKI]: “So, thank you very much.”
When I did so, Kojuurou-san’s expression relaxed quickly.
[KOJUUROU]: “–You are already someone who the Date Army cannot be without, so it is natural to protect you.”
[KOJUUROU]: “Therefore, please do not feel indebted for being protected.”
[KOJUUROU]: “… Or is it that you feel uneasy at being protected by us?”
[YUZUKI]: “No way, I’m not uneasy…! It’s really reassuring!”
Kojuurou-san had what seemed like an unconscious wry smile when I answered in a slight panic.
[KOJUUROU]: “Haha, I apologize; those words put you slightly on the spot, didn’t it. However, if you are not uneasy then I feel relieved.”
[KOJUUROU]: “Please allow us to protect you from here on as well… You will not mind, I hope?”
[YUZUKI]: “Yes, thank you.”
[KOJUUROU]: “And, if you have no objections, please show me your leg. I will change the bandage and treat it properly.”
[YUZUKI]: “Huh, but, that’s too much. I can treat it later by myself…”
[KOJUUROU]: “I will not be able to forgive myself for allowing you to be injured if a scar is left behind.”
[YUZUKI]: “Kojuurou-san… Okay, please go ahead.”
This wasn’t the first time I had Kojuurou-san treating my injuries but–
Him treating me gently like I was something fragile… No matter how many times I experienced it, I really couldn’t get used to it.
[KOJUUROU]: “There, it should be fine with this. The injury does not appear to have festered and so it should heal soon.”
[YUZUKI]: “R-Right. Thank you…”
[KOJUUROU]: “…? Is something the matter? Your face seems red.”
[YUZUKI]: “Ah, no… uh…”
[YUZUKI]: (I definitely can’t say that my heart started racing from his treatment…!)
My cheeks were so hot that even I could tell myself, and so I instinctively turned my head away.
But Kojuurou-san, who wasn’t aware of anything, seemed to think my health became worse and placed a hand on my forehead.
My heart began to pound even harder at the largeness of the hand that touched me.
[KOJUUROU]: “It’s hot… It might be a fever due to exhaustion from the expedition.”
[KOJUUROU]: “Please get a good rest today. If your condition worsens tomorrow, be sure to tell me.”
[YUZUKI]: “… Okay.”
When I nodded, Kojuurou-san gave me a smile and gently took his hand away.
[KOJUUROU]: “I shall excuse myself here then. My apologies again for intruding when you are tired. Good night.”
[YUZUKI]: “N-No. Thank you for treating the injury… Good night.”
After Kojuurou-san left the room, I softly pressed a hand over my chest.
[YUZUKI]: (It’s still racing…)
While I was thinking that, Imari-kun giggled from beside me.
[IMARI]: “Kojuurou-san really is like everyone’s mom, huh.”
[IMARI]: “? What’s wrong?”
[YUZUKI]: “Ah, no, it’s nothing.”
[YUZUKI]: (Certainly, just a while ago, I would have thought the same thing as Imari-kun about Kojuurou-san but–)
[YUZUKI]: (Mother is a bit… no, he’s really different from that…)