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Chapter 106 Yotsuba's Fall / Kurohane Yotsuba, Part One - 2


 She wants to say "No", but she is at a loss for words.
 While trying her best to hold back the urge to cling to her, she opens her mouth.
 
「...it's not hard at all. It's natural to work hard」
「But why is it that Yotsuba is the only one who works harder than all the other kids?」
「I was born into a family like that, it's my duty」
「So you were not born in Kurohane's house because you wanted to be?」
 
 The words pierce her.
 
「Yotsuba, I heard you say that "I have nothing to carry". I don't know what you' mean when you talk about something that doesn't weigh much」
「...stop saying that」
 
 Yotsuba shakes her head and closes her eyes.
 She doesn't want to listen to her sister, knowing that her attempts to block out her voice are a sign that she's on to something. 
 
**a
 
「No. I'm not. I've been trying」
「...for what?」
「...eh?」
 
 From the left.
 Chihiro asks quietly.
 
「I have seen some people who work harder than others. All of them always had a reason for their efforts. Why did you work so hard?」
「It was to take over the family」
「What do you want to do now that you've taken over?」
「I want to help people in need by investing」
 
 That's right.
 That's what Yotsuba had been taught since she was a child, and yes, it's the right thing to do for her.
 That's why she has been working hard to become a person who can help others.
 
「Really? But wasn't there anything else you wanted to do?」
 
 "What else do I want to do?"
 She doesn't have anything like that.
 But then Suzu preceded Yotsuba's words for a moment.
 
 
「When you were in middle school, you used to play tennis every day, but you quit, right?」
「――!?」
 
 This is a memory she had forgotten... or, rather, was trying to forget.
 But now Suzu has dug up the past that Yotsuba had been pushing to the corner of her memory with pinpoint accuracy.
 And she was right, Yotsuba was a tennis enthusiast in middle school. She thought she was talented, and there was a time when she wanted to become a pro. Even now, trophies of her good results in tournaments are still displayed in her house.
 
 But those were the old days.
 After all, she gave up tennis as soon as she entered high school.
 Besides, Shibahou Academy did not have a tennis club, and she did not have enough time to join the local community or other organizations.
 
「If you hadn't taken over the family, you could have played tennis」
「Whose fault is it that...?」
 
 Before she knows it, Yotsuba realized she had misspoken.
 Certainly, Suzu was the reason Yotsuba had to take over the house.
 When the former principal died and the engagement was broken off, Suzu was free. If Suzu had not been in a state of depression, it would have been Suzu who got engaged to Principal Ootori. The succession would have reverted to the eldest daughter again, and Yotsuba could have lived her life as she wished.
 But that way of thinking is an act of admitting "I am dissatisfied with my current environment".
 
「Yeah. It's my fault」
 
 Simply, Suzu nodded her head.
 
「Because of me, Yotsuba has had to bear things she shouldn't have had to bear. I am sorry. I've put you through a lot of hardship, trouble, and worry」
「Why...」
 
 "You're apologizing now?"
 With the same voice and face as in the past, Suzu cornered Yotsuba's heart and blamed her.
 She cornered the one who's supposed to be saying the right thing.
 She trying to treat Yotsuba like a spoiled child when she has been an honor student and has been helpful to everyone.
 
**b
 
「It's hard, isn't it? It's okay, you can complain as much as you want. Because it's my fault. You have the right to criticize me」
「Do I really want to hear that now? And if I speak out now, if I give up my role, who will take over the house!?」
 
 Yotsuba stood up, shaking off her hands from Suzu's laps.
 But when she turned around, Suzu was nowhere to be seen. It was natural. As long as her ability is active, no one who is not touched by Suzu can recognize her.
 
 Yotsuba cannot hear Suzu's reply.
 Instead, it was Chihiro who answered.
 
「I don't know about that, and it doesn't matter now」
「...huh」
 
 He saw her with cold eyes.
 They were frightening eyes, as if they could see into the depths of Yotsuba's heart.
 And she's not wrong. Because his [Mind Reading] ability has read some feelings that were brooding in Yotsuba's heart.
 
「Kurohane-senpai. No, "Yotsuba"」
 
 He then called her by her first name, and just that alone made her heart flutter.
 
「I don't need your position or pretense. Let me hear what you really want, what you desire. But then I want you to be mine」
 
 ――The words made a startling impression on Yotsuba's heart.
 
 Yotsuba's good family background, good grades, and sociable personality made her popular among the male students. Yotsuba has received many confessions of love, and some of them have been similar in tone.
 However, Chihiro's words have a different weight from those spoken by a man who knows nothing about it.
 He knows.
 He is more deeply involved in Yotsuba's circumstances and inner life than his parents or Principal Ootori.
 
 Also that imager
 
 He wants Yotsuba even though he has directly saw the scene of her pleasure in torturing a man.
 In addition, the way he says that he wants Yotsuba seems to be a reflection of Yotsuba herself in her arrogant attitude - in her "Desire".
 
 Perhaps, he would really affirm "Yotsuba as she is". That was Yotsuba's thought.
 Just as he made his sister, Suzu, who had abandoned everything and stagnated, fall in love with him.
 
「...no. I can't do that. It would make me weak. Besides, Izumi kun has a lover」
「Aika knows all about it and agrees. Besides, you don't have to think too hard about it. If you feel uncomfortable, you can think of it as a "deal"」
「Deal」
 
 The word slips into her stubborn mind.
 
**c
 
「Yes. I accept Yotsuba's desire and cooperate with you so that you can be satisfied. In return, Yotsuba will be mine」
 
 "But I don't intend to keep you under my control 24 hours a day. I also not asking you to break off your engagement to Principal Ootori", Chihiro added that.
 
 ――There is no contradiction between an engagement and a lover's relationship and a master-slave relationship.
 
 What he is saying is that Yotsuba should keep her engagement, keep jer love for Principal Ootori, and keep Chihiro at the top of her mind.
 
「You can continue to be the student council president and the heir to the family if you want to. Yotsuba's wishes are not bound. As long as the burden is lifted from your mind, the outcome will be different even if you do the same thing」
 
 "It's give and take", Chihiro added.
 What Yotsuba gets is peace of mind.
 And Yotsuba offers loyalty and convenience in times of need.
 
「...It's a nice deal」
「But, you can reject it」
「No」
 
 She shakes her head and replies.
 That's a nice deal. But she has betrayed the trust of everyone around her, asking her to give up her soul for something as tangible as peace of mind.
 
 And yet, she cannot refuse.
 
 Her heart understands.
 If she surrenders herself to him, she will find peace in her heart.
 Yotsuba's desires are acknowledged and released.
 
「...let me think about it for a night...」
 
 That was Yotsuba's answer.
 She knew that she was doing what the other party wanted her to do, but she turned her eyes away from the important part.
 After all, it was her own wish.
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