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Yuichiro woke up to the sound of screaming. He found himself still in Muichiro’s bed even though he hadn’t meant to fall asleep there. He couldn’t even remember when he fell asleep. He just remembered talking with his brother for a while, and suddenly he was waking up. He realized that he must not have been asleep for long, because a quick look out the window told him it was still nighttime. 

He moved to sit up to see who was screaming, but found himself unable to do so, because Muichiro, who was still somehow asleep despite the noise, was clinging tightly to Yuichiro’s kimono with his fingers. His left arm was still wrapped tightly around Himejima’s haori which continued to worry Yuichiro. 

Yuichiro carefully pried his brother’s fingers off, gently pushing his hand away. He didn’t want to wake him nor hurt him anymore than he already had been. He glanced around the room seeing that a few others had woken up, but most of them thankfully still seemed to be sleeping. The only ones he saw awake were Kanroji and Inosuke.

He turned towards Kanao’s bed last where the screaming had been coming from. Something in him had been telling him not to look that way. Something in him knew what he would find. He knew who the screams belonged to. He knew the only reason they would be screaming. He didn’t want it to be true. The girls didn’t deserve this.

Unfortunately, he had been right. Aoi was standing in front of Kanao’s bed crying out her name over and over reaching a hand forward, trying to escape the hold of a Kakushi who was holding her back. Tears rolled down her cheeks as she struggled in the Kakushi’s grasp. He hadn’t seen her cry once since she’d learnt of Shinobu’s death. Kanao must have been the breaking point.

He was glad the little ones weren’t there. They didn’t need to see this, and he knew Aoi wouldn’t want them to see her like this either.

Yuichiro slipped out of bed making his way over to Aoi. She’d always helped him so much when he was having trouble dealing with things. It was his turn to help. As he walked over to where she was, he carefully avoided looking at Kanao’s bed. He just couldn’t bring himself to look. He may not have been as close with her as he was with Aoi, but he had still considered her his friend. 

“Aoi?”

Aoi’s screaming stopped as she turned to look at him. She stopped struggling in the Kakushi’s arms, and they loosened their grip on her. She just stared at him in silence for a while, tears in her eyes, before finally breaking free of the Kakushi’s grasp and running out of the room.

The Kakushi moved to follow her, but Yuichiro stopped them. “I’ll go get her.” He knew she would hate to have people see her like this. She’d seen him in a worse state, so hopefully she wouldn’t mind if he followed her.

Before he could leave the room to follow Aoi, somebody reached out and grabbed his arm. He turned to see Mitsuri standing there. At some point she must have gotten out of bed.

“I’ll tell the girls,” she said, a sad tone to her voice. “Tell Aoi she doesn’t have to. She already told them about Shinobu. This will be too much for her.”

Yuichiro nodded. “Thank you. You should get back in bed for now though. She’ll be upset with you if you don’t.” 

Yuichiro then made his way out into the hallway, not seeing any sign of Aoi. He started looking around in rooms he knew were empty. She wouldn’t want to go somewhere where people would see her breaking down. He knew she’d been getting closer and closer to breaking down since she’d found out about Shinobu, but somehow she’d managed to keep it together. He was pretty sure she hadn’t had a break since they first received the letter from Oyakata, so that couldn’t have helped. 

He found her in the storage room, where they kept all the supplies. Aoi always spent so much time making sure it stayed organized, but now it was all a mess. She was making a mess everything she always worked so hard on. He watched as she continued knocking things down from the shelves. 

Yuichiro wasn’t quite sure what he should be doing right now. He wasn’t used to being on this side of things. Rarely was he the one who had to comfort her. Of course he had before, but never for something like this. He wanted to calm her down and make sure she was okay, but he didn’t know how.

It didn’t take long for Yuichiro to notice the blood. He saw it dripping down her right hand from a cut on her palm. She must have cut it on something on one of the shelves she’d made a mess of. It didn’t seem to stop her though. He was pretty sure she hadn’t even noticed.

He decided he could no longer just stand by the door and watch. Aoi was hurt. He made his way over to her, watching where he stepped, so he didn’t cut his feet on anything that may have broken as it had been thrown to the floor. 

When he made it to where Aoi was standing, Yuichiro reached out and grabbed onto her right wrist tightly, stopping her from hurting herself any further. As he grabbed onto her, she froze and turned to look at him, tears continuing to roll down her cheeks. She must not have noticed he was in the room, too focused on what she’d been doing.

“I don’t want you to see me like this.” Her voice was shaky. He could feel her trembling. “Go away.”

“You’ve seen me when I was even worse,” he reminded her. He let go of her wrist, confident she wasn’t about to go back to making a mess and hurting herself. He ran a finger along the faint scar he’d left on her cheek. It had never fully faded, and he felt incredibly guilty for it. “I can’t just leave you like this. I’m staying.”

Aoi stared at him for a while, saying nothing. It appeared as if she was trying to hold back her tears, but it just wasn’t working. They didn’t stop falling. He understood the feeling. He didn’t have time to think about that, however, because the next thing he knew, Aoi was collapsing into him, pressing her face against his shoulder. It was just as he had done to her not long ago. Yuichiro quickly wrapped his arm around her, to keep her from falling.

“Help me,” she sobbed, voice muffled. It wasn’t something he’d expected to hear her say. She almost always kept her problems to herself. He knew she didn’t like to ask for help.

“I’m here,” he replied. If she was asking for help, it meant she really needed it.  “I’m not leaving you.” 

Yuichiro gently lowered Aoi to the floor and had her lean up against the wall. He got back up to get some supplies to take care of her hand, making sure to promise he wasn’t going anywhere. He was lucky they were already in the storage room, but it took awhile to find what he was looking for now that the room was such a mess, but he still managed to get what he needed and made his way back over to Aoi, sitting down on the floor in front of her.

He dumped everything he had collected into his lap and pulled her hand towards him to start cleaning out the cut and to wipe up all the blood. He was glad to see it wasn’t that deep, so it wouldn’t need stitches, and he began to wrap it in the bandages he’d grabbed. While he worked on patching up her hand, he made sure not to look at her face, knowing she wouldn’t want him to see her crying anymore than he already had. 

When he was done he sat up against the wall next to her. He felt as she leaned up against him, resting her head on his shoulder. In this position he wouldn’t have to see her cry. They sat like that for a while, and Yuichiro began to wonder if she’d fallen asleep until she suddenly spoke up.

“Kanae’s dead. Shinobu’s dead. Kanao’s dead. I couldn’t do anything to save any of them. I’m useless.”

“There’s only so much you can do for them. You did what you could. There’s nothing else you could have done.” Yuichiro had never met Kanae, but he had heard about what happened, and he knew there was nothing Aoi could have done. The same was true with Shinobu. And she’d done everything she could for Kanao. None of it was her fault, and he wished he could get her to understand that.

“I should have at least been able to save Kanao. She was brought here alive, and I couldn’t even save her. I’m supposed to be a doctor. Shinobu would have saved her.”

“You don’t know that. It was something that you couldn’t have helped. You did everything you could. I’m sure the same thing would have happened no matter who was treating her. It really sucks feeling useless and not being able to protect your own family.” His voice cracked as he spoke, but he held back his tears. It wasn’t about him right now. Aoi needed the comfort more than he did. “You told me the same thing when we were little. You just do whatever you can, and you’ve done all that you could”

They sat in silence for a while again, neither one of them having anything to add to the conversation. All that could be heard was the sound of Aoi crying and faint noises from those out in the hallway. Yuichiro wished there was something he could do to make her feel better, but if Aoi was like him, there wasn’t anything he could do. It would just take time.

“I’m tired. I’m so tired,” Aoi said after what felt like hours, but Yuichiro knew it had only been a few minutes. He knew she was exhausted. She’d been working nonstop since the letter had first arrived. She’d let everybody else rest, but she never let herself take a break. She always worked too hard. It was like this whenever Shinobu placed her in charge while she was away, but it had just never gotten this bad before.

“When’s the last time you slept?” he asked. He knew it wouldn’t be a good answer. She hadn’t slept at all the night they first received the letter. And it would be morning again soon, which meant she’d been awake for almost two full days. And most of that time she had spent working. 

“I can’t remember,” she sobbed. “I’m so tired.” He realized that her crying was only being made worse because of how tired she was. She might feel better once she got some sleep. He wasn’t sure how she managed to keep it together for so long.

“We should get you to bed. You need to get some sleep.” Yuichiro was getting tired himself, not having been able to sleep the whole night through, but he couldn’t focus on that right now. Not until Aoi was finally resting. He’d just take her to her room and find somewhere he could sleep himself.

“There’s still so much work I need to do,” she argued. “Shinobu left me in charge. I don’t have time to rest. But I’m so tired.”

“She would want you to rest,” said Yuichiro. “Even she took breaks when it got busy. If you’re tired you’re not going to be able to do your job right. There’s so many people here helping. More than we usually have. There’s no reason you can’t just sleep for a few hours. If you’re needed, I’m sure somebody will wake you.”

“But the little ones. I need to tell the little ones what happened. I need to be there when they wake up.” He knew she’d already told them about Shinobu. He wasn’t sure how well she’d be able to handle having to do that again. She wouldn’t be able to keep it together.

“Kanroji told me that she would do it for you. She didn’t want you to have to do it again, so you don’t need to worry about that. What you do need to worry about is getting some sleep. You’re a mess right now.”

“I can’t.”

“You have to.”

She didn’t reply for a while, and at first Yuichiro thought she was trying to come up with another argument to use, so he would let her get back to work. However, he noticed that her crying had stopped and her breathing had slowed. It suddenly felt more calm in the room. She had fallen asleep on his shoulder. While he had wanted to get her to her room to sleep, at least she was sleeping. He would send her to her room later, but for now everything was fine.

Before Yuichiro knew it, he had also fallen asleep.

***

Yuichiro jolted awake as something heavy fell onto his lap. He blinked his eyes a few times, trying to remember where he was, but all he could think about was how sore he felt. He hadn’t exactly fallen asleep in a comfortable position. His shoulder was hurting the worst like he’d been carrying around something heavy all day. 

He finally looked down at his lap to see what exactly had fallen on him and woken him up and found that it was Kiyo. She climbed off of him, and quickly got to her feet, dusting off her skirt.

He remembered Aoi had been with him when he’d fallen asleep. That must have been why his shoulder hurt so much. She’d been sleeping on him. He turned his head to look at her, and she was awake as well, likely also having been woken up by Kiyo. Her eyes were all puffy from crying, which reminded him of why they were there.

“I’m so sorry,” Kiyo apologized. “I came to grab some bandages, and I tripped. I didn’t mean to wake you.”

“How long were we asleep?” Aoi asked. Yuichiro guessed it had to have been a while based on how sore he was, and the fact that the mess that Aoi had made seemed to have been completely cleaned up. The shelves weren’t as organized as they had been before, but it was better than when they’d fallen asleep.

“It’s still morning,” Kiyo replied, which meant it had been a few hours. “The Kakushi were worried because they couldn’t find you two for a while, but then Hinatsuru found you sleeping on each other when she came to grab some supplies. Everybody decided to just let you sleep, since you haven’t taken any breaks.”

“I need to get back to work.” Aoi started to stand up, but Yuichiro grabbed her wrist pulling her back down. He pulled on her a bit too hard, and this time Aoi ended up being the one to fall into his lap. He watched as her cheeks turned red, and he felt his start to do the same. 

“You need to get more sleep,” Yuichiro replied. He let go of her wrist, and gently shoved her off his lap since she didn’t seem to be moving herself. She’d only slept a few hours at most after being awake for almost two whole days. She still needed sleep, even if she didn’t think she did. “You’ll be too useless if you’re tired.”

“Fine. But I’m not sleeping in here again. My neck hurts.” Yuichiro was surprised she agreed so quickly. She had probably finally realized just how tired she had been, even if she wasn’t going to admit it. He got to his feet and held out his hand to pull her up.

Aoi quickly turned to Kiyo. “Did Kanroji tell you?” she asked. 

Kiyo looked down at her feet, a frown forming on her face. “She came to tell us this morning when we woke up. All three of us decided we still wanted to keep working with the patients because it helps distract us.”

“If you need to though, please stop to take a break,” Aoi said. “I’m worried about you.”

Kiyo nodded. “We will. And you should too. We’ve been worried as well.” She gave Aoi a quick hug. “I have to leave now.” She gave a small wave, and then she disappeared out the door. 

“You worry too much about everybody else that you don’t take the time to take care of yourself,” Yuichiro said once Kiyo had left.

“Aren’t you doing the same thing?” She was right, but he wasn’t just going to admit it. 

“We should get you to your room now,” Yuichiro said, changing the subject. He grabbed onto Aoi’s wrist, gently this time and led her out into the hallway. They received a few stares from those who they walked past as they walked down to Aoi’s room, which he chose to ignore.

When they arrived at Aoi’s room, Yuichiro made her get dressed into her nightclothes, which would be much more comfortable for her to sleep in than her uniform. As she got dressed, he turned away, eyes closed, until she told him she was all set. He then forced her into her futon, pulling her blanket up for her and sitting down on the floor next to her.

“You don’t need to stay,” she told him.

“I want to make sure you’re okay,” he replied. “And that you don’t try to escape and get back to work.” He didn’t trust her not to try and leave.

“Are you even doing okay yourself?” she asked. “You still haven’t touched the letter from your mom yet.”

Yuichiro took a deep breath, squeezing his eyes shut to prevent any tears from falling. He’d been trying not to think about that. He was too scared to read it. It was the last words Amane had for him, and he wasn’t ready to read them yet. He wanted it to last. He’d already done enough crying, and now it was his turn to comfort Aoi and Muichiro. They were suffering too.

“I’ll read it later,” he said, voice cracking. “I have a lot of stuff I could be helping with.” He knew he was using her argument back at her. But he didn’t have anything else to say. He was going to hold off on reading the letter as long as he could. Once he read it, he’d have to finally accept she was gone.

“You’re a hypocrite.”

“So are you. Telling the girls that they should take breaks, when you can’t even take one yourself without being forced.”

“We both just suck at this.” She was crying again.

Yuichiro nodded. He knew what she meant. Neither of them seemed to be dealing with their losses well. They kept trying to comfort the other, when they couldn’t even help themselves. They’d both have to deal with it eventually, but for now they were pushing it aside.

“We’ll be okay,” he said. “We’ve both lost people before. We got through it before, and we can do it again.”

When she didn’t reply, Yuichiro realized she’d fallen back asleep. Finally she’d get to rest comfortably in her own futon. It was a lot better than the uncomfortable storage room floor, but at least she’d been able to sleep. Hopefully she’d be able to sleep for a while and that nothing urgent would come up that would require Aoi’s presence.

Yuichiro stood up and quietly, making sure not to wake Aoi. Before going around and helping with the patients, he decided he would first go check on his brother and see if he was awake. He wanted to make sure Muichiro was still doing alright, and after what had happened with Kanao, he was especially worried.

As he made his way down the hallway to the room where his brother was staying, he heard a couple of women arguing. They were being a bit too loud with how close they currently were to one of the rooms with patients. If they kept at this, they were going to wake up some of the patients, and they all needed rest.

One of the women, he recognized. It was Suma, the woman he’d found crying in the kitchen the day before. She was crying again now, and he wondered if she ever stopped. The other woman he didn’t recognize, but he was pretty sure that she was the last one of Uzui’s wives. The only one he hadn’t met yet. He couldn’t remember her name, but it’s not like it mattered to him. It’s not like he was going to be seeing her much.

Yuichiro knew that if Aoi was here, she would have gone over to tell them to stop and to get back to work or leave. Yuichiro, however, did not like getting involved in something that had nothing to do with him. Instead he decided on another way to get them to stop. He’d find Hinatsuru and ask for her help. Uzui could also work, but Yuichiro decided he’d prefer not to deal with him unless he absolutely had to.

He started looking in nearby rooms to see if he could find either of them. He hoped they weren’t sleeping, because he would feel bad waking anybody. As he continued his search, he wondered if it was a common thing for the two to fight. If he remembered correctly, the other woman had been the one to tell Suma to get the mouse. 

After a few minutes of searching, Yuichiro finally found both Hinatsuru and Uzui helping with a patient. Uzui seemed to be having trouble changing the bandages on the patient one handed, so Hinatsuru was helping him. He wondered if it would just be better for him to not help, since he couldn’t really seem to do much on his own. But that wasn’t the issue right now.

He walked up to them and gave a small tug on Hinatsuru’s clothes. He’d much rather talk with her over Uzui, who he was still mad at for trying to kidnap Aoi and Naho even though that had been months ago now. Aoi still didn’t like him, so neither did he. It didn’t matter that he’d been nice to him that one time.

“Do you need something?” Hinatsuru asked, turning to look at him, and Uzui also looked in his direction to see who his wife was talking to. 

“Suma and somebody else are fighting, and I don’t want to get in the middle of it, so I thought I’d tell you. They’re really close to one of the rooms, and they’re going to start waking everybody else,” Yuichiro replied.

“It must be Makio,” Uzui said.

Hinasturu nodded and sighed. “We should probably go stop them.” She looked down at the patient she and Uzui had been helping and frowned.

“I can take over here if you’d like,” Yuichiro offered. He’d much rather stay here with a patient then get in the middle of family drama from a family other than his own. He had enough to deal with just with his brother.

“Are you sure you can do that on your own?” Uzui asked. Yuichiro tried to ignore that he was looking at his left arm as he spoke. Just because Uzui couldn’t do it on his own, didn’t mean he couldn’t.

Yuichiro rolled his eyes. “I’ve been doing this since I was eleven. I think I’m fine.”

Hinatsuru thanked him then took Uzui by the arm and led him out of the room. Once they were gone, Yuichiro picked up where they had left off with the bandages. While Hinatsuru was nice, he hoped that they didn’t stay here too much longer. They were a lot to deal with.

***

Once Yuichiro had finished with the patient, he was finally able to go check on Muichiro. When he’d gone out into the hallway, he hadn’t heard the fighting anymore, so Hinatsuru and Uzui must have been successful in stopping the argument.

When he arrived at the room where his brother should have been, he was upset to find that he wasn’t there. He was not in good enough shape to be out of bed at all. Even Inosuke, who never kept still nor listened, hadn’t gotten out of bed without permission. He wondered how Aoi had convinced him. 

“He went outside,” Kanroji said from her bed. Yuichiro turned to look at her. “The Kakushi tried to stop him, but he’s very stubborn. I don’t think he went far though.”

Yuichiro thanked her for the information, and then he was walking back out of the room and outside the building. He walked around the yard until he found Muichiro sitting under a tree with Ginko on his lap. He still had the haori with him.

“You shouldn’t be out here,” Yuichiro said as he joined him in the grass. “You’re going to hurt yourself. You’re still badly injured.”

“Everything already hurts. I don’t think it can get much worse than this,” Muichiro replied, as he pet the bird sitting in his lap. “Ginko was worried about me, and she doesn’t like being inside. Also I think she might have tried to eat Kaburamaru. She’s not very friendly with other animals. Or people. I think you’re the only other person she likes.”

“Well you shouldn’t stay here for long. We’ll need to check you over to make sure everything is healing correctly, so we know you’ll be alright. And you should probably get something for the pain if it’s hurting that badly.” He thought of Kanao, but couldn’t bring himself to mention what had happened with her. He didn’t want the same to happen to Muichiro. He didn’t care if that made him selfish.

“Yui, are we ugly?”

“What? No. Why are you asking that?” He knew Muichiro was trying to change the subject. He was just as bad as Aoi sometimes. However, Yuichiro didn’t quite understand why this was how his brother was choosing to do so. There were so many other ways he could have done that.

“Good. Our ancestor was ugly. The one that the Ubuyashikis told us about. I don’t want us to look like him.” The answer only made Yuichiro more confused. Why did he know this, and why was he bringing it up now?

“What? Did you meet him or something?”

“Yes.”

Yuichiro had meant the question as a joke. He wasn’t expecting that as an answer. He scrunched up his face and tried to figure out what exactly his brother was talking about. Was he confused? He had gotten a head injury, but the Kakushi who had taken care of him said that he was fine. But then again Kanao had also been fine.

“He’s dead now. He was a demon,” Muichiro explained after Yuichiro didn’t respond, too busy trying to figure out what he’d meant in the first place. His explanation, thankfully, cleared up a lot, but it wasn’t really what Yuichiro had been expecting. The Ubuyashikis must have made some sort of mistake. “He was the one who cut off my...the one who hurt me. I couldn’t do anything, but Shinazugawa, Himejima, and Genya killed him.”

“You must have helped too of course,” Yuichiro said. If Muichiro had been hurt fighting him, then that would mean he’d been involved in the fight that killed him as well. Just because he’d been hurt didn’t mean he hadn’t also helped.

Muichiro shook his head and winced, clutching at the back of his head with his hand. “He did all this to me before anybody else was even there, and then he knocked me out. When I woke up, I watched Genya die. I missed the whole thing.”

“You still helped before anybody else showed up.” 

“I’m a Pillar. I should have been able to do more. He used my own sword against me. I shouldn’t have let that happen. Genya died, and Himejima and Shinazugawa are dead too now. I’m the only one who was there who’s still alive. If I’d been able to help, maybe they wouldn’t be dead.”

“You don’t know that,” said Yuichiro. He didn’t want Muichiro to think like that. He shouldn’t have to feel guilty for something that wasn’t even his fault. “For all you know, you could have also died along with them.”

“Maybe that would have been better.”

Yuichiro grabbed grabbed onto Muichiro’s shirt and yanked him towards him. He heard Muichiro cry out. Ginko flew out of his lap, landing a few meters away in the grass, spooked by the sudden movement. “Don’t say that.”

“Yui, you’re hurting me. Please let go.”

Yuichiro pulled his hand away, letting his brother go. He hadn’t meant to hurt him. He hadn’t been thinking. “I’m sorry,” he said. He was shaking. The fact that his brother was thinking like that scared him. “Please don't say stuff like that. I don't want to lose you. I already thought I did for a while.”

Muichiro’s eyes started to fill with tears. Ginko made her way back over to sit in his lap again. “Yui, I think there’s something wrong with me. I can’t stop thinking about it, and I get scared when I’m not holding Himejima’s haori. When I left to come outside, I was going to leave it behind. I tried, but I started panicking, and I felt sick.”

“You’ll get better,” Yuichiro said, and he meant it. Everybody had always told him the same thing, and they’d been right. It would be the same for Muichiro, and he was sure of that. “It’s like when I couldn’t go outside. It took a long time, but now I’m sitting here with you.”

“I just want to skip to when I feel better.”

“I know. But I’m going to be here to help you, just like you were for me.”

***

Several hours later, Yuichiro found himself back inside the Butterfly Estate going around and helping with the patients. After they’d talked for a while, Yuichiro had helped his brother back into his bed, where he’d been given something to help with the pain. He’d fallen back asleep shortly after.

Not long after, Aoi had woken up from her nap, looking a lot better than she had been earlier in the storage room. She still looked sad, but at least she appeared to be more awake. Whenever he saw Aoi or any of the younger girls, he would check on them from a distance to make sure they seemed to be doing okay. He was pretty sure they were doing the same with each other and him as well. But none of them brought anything up about their dead family members.

The patient Yuichiro was currently seeing had a nasty cut on her arm. When she’d first arrived, she’d been given some stitches. Yuichiro was checking to make sure it was healing the way it should be, and seeing that it was okay, he started rewrapping it in bandages.

As he stood there wrapping the woman’s arm, Uzui came to stand beside him. Yuichiro took a deep breath, and tried to ignore his presence. He focused instead on the bandages in his hand. He just wished he wasn’t being stared at, but maybe he’d just go away.

“Do you need something?” he asked cooly when Uzui didn’t go away.

“How do you do that?” Uzui asked him.

“Do what?” Yuichiro didn’t think he was doing anything that impressive. Aoi was the one who usually did all the harder stuff. 

“The bandages,” he answered. “I’ve been trying since I got here, but I always have to get somebody else to do it for me.”

“Well like I told you, I’ve been doing this since I was eleven.” He fished wrapping the woman’s arm, and turned to face Uzui.

“I’ve seen you do so much other stuff I don’t think I could do with just one arm.” Yuichiro wasn’t sure exactly what he was talking about. He’d just gotten so used to doing everything with one arm, that he didn’t even think about it. Until somebody pointed it out of course. 

“Well it’s not like I have much of a choice to do it any other way.” Yuichiro turned and started to walk away, moving on to the next patient and hoping to leave Uzui behind. Unfortunately, Uzui followed him, not seeming to get that Yuichiro was trying to avoid him.

“You should teach me,” he suggested, but Yuichiro did not want to. He knew he would already have to help Muichiro, which he didn’t like to think about. Helping somebody he didn’t really like wasn’t something he wished to do. So he decided to ignore him.

Uzui stayed quiet for a while, and Yuichiro figured he was done. But then he spoke up again. “So where are you and your brother going to go after all this?”

Yuichiro froze. He didn’t like this change of topic. It was something he hadn’t thought about. It hadn’t yet hit him that he wouldn’t be going back to the Ubuyashiki Estate. He didn’t want to think about that yet. He was trying to wait as long as he could.

“I don’t know,” he said after a long pause. He and Muichiro would probably just go to Muichiro’s estate. They’d be fine on their own. They had lived by themselves for a while. Or maybe they’d just stay here. He was sure Aoi wouldn’t mind. He had plenty of options. He didn’t need to think about it right now.

“How about you two come live with me?”