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Bara (薔薇, “rose“), also known by the wasei-eigo construction “Men’s Love” (ML メンズラブ, “menzu rabu”), is a Japanese technical term for a genre of art and fictional media that focuses on male same-sex love usually created by gay men for a gay audience.
Saigyou was the name of a monk said to have created an artificial human. Recalling tales of lonely ogres gathering human bones to create a person, Saigyou was said to have used the secret necromantic séance teachings of the Tokudaiji noble house to create a human from human bone remains.
I met Aira-sama in a café the next Sunday in the early afternoon.
“Sorry for making you come out here, Reika-chan.”
“There is nothing to apologise for. Being able to meet with you is a pleasure.”
I ordered a latte. This café did latte art, so I asked for a sheep.
“Cute sheep. Speaking of which, you wore sheep ears during the school festival didn’t you?”
The reception that my sheep butler costume received was surprisingly good, so I had become a little fond of sheep since. Hmm, it was a bit of a shame to ruin this by drinking it.
While I was appreciating my latte art, Aira-sama began speaking hesitantly.
“So you see, I’m sure you’ve already guessed why I’ve called you out today. It’s about Yurie and Masaya.”
Here it was… I had pretty much guessed it. I took a gentle sip to avoid ruining the sheep. It was delicious.
“You’ve noticed too that Masaya’s been acting strangely, right?”
After seeing that it would be stranger if anybody failed to notice. He was like an empty cicada shell of himself. Even if I had somehow missed that, Enjou had already told me about how he went on a journey, and then handed over those unlucky souvenirs.
“You see, Yurie has finally given him her decision.”
I thought so…
“Yurie cares about Masaya a great deal as well, but it’s always been the love for a younger brother. That’s why she thought it was about time to make things clear. I mean, the two of us are already twenty. In a sense you could say she was taking responsibility.”
It was more or less the same in Kimidol. ‘I can’t see you as anything other than a brother, so I can’t answer your feelings’ or something. Kaburagi had still replied “No! I won’t give up!” and was pretty persistent about it. In the very end though, Yurie-sama wouldn’t take back her words, for both their sakes.
“It happened a little while after the school festival. Truthfully though, Yurie’s been trying put some distance between them since Masaya entered high school. She’s been trying to create chances for him to notice other girls as well. Remember the girl she brought with her to the school festival?”
“Ah, Maihama Ema-san.”
“Right. The two of them studied under the same tea master and go back quite a while. Ema-san looks up to Yurie and adores Masaya too, and has been to his house a few times with Yurie. Since Yurie dotes on her, Masaya can’t flat-out reject her either…”
“Originally we had planned to come with just Yurie and I but Ema-san came along to the school festival as well. Masaya was really unhappy about that. He had planned to walk around with Yurie but then Ema-san was stuck to him the whole time instead. And then later when he went to Yurie’s house to visit, Ema-san was there again… Eventually the stress built up and he demanded that Yurie tell him what was going on.”
“And so Yurie told him that she could only see him as a little brother and asked him to give up on her. It went something along the lines of telling him that her feelings wouldn’t change no matter how much he pined after her. She thought it was a good opportunity to set things straight.”
“So the exam results…”
“…Yeah. Masaya of all people dropped ranks, didn’t he. I heard about it later. Yurie was worried too. What’s worse is that after that a young man we met in the UK came to Japan on business. Yurie and I had gone to welcome him, but then Masaya saw. He assumed that Yurie had said all that because she had found a boyfriend and flipped out. The guy took a lot of care of us while we were overseas so Yurie was furious at how rude Masaya had been. So she went and said, ‘Who I date is none of your business, Masaya! I don’t want to see you anymore!’ Of course, they weren’t actually dating, you see.”
So that’s why he went on his journey.
But wow, Kaburagi hadn’t matured since primary school at all. It was the same mistake all over again.
“Did Shuusuke tell you that Masaya went missing? We had a decent idea of where he had gone, but Yurie was white as a sheet what with the destination and all. She came crying to me that she hadn’t expected him to take it that badly and asked me what to do. Shuusuke spent each day talking Masaya down until he knew enough to go pick Masaya up… Ojisama and Obasama were obviously horrified and wanted to know what happened to their son, so it was chaos over there too. Yurie’s been depressed and guilty towards them and told me that she couldn’t face them. It’s been a horrible start to the year.”
To think that while I was nomming on red bean soup and New Year’s mochi broth, these guys were going through something like this…
“Anyhow, we managed to somehow bring Masaya home, and you remember his cold? Because of that he had to call off the rest of his journey, but he’s been completely listless, like a different person. We’ve all been really worried.”
This went into a lot more detail than I expected… I wasn’t liking where this was going.
“Are you certain that you should be telling an outsider like me about all this?”
I made sure to stress ‘outsider’. Not that I thought it would save me at this point…
Aira-sama leant forward and continued.
“You see, I was hoping you could lend your help in getting Masaya back on his feet. Please, Reika-chan.”
“I question what aid I could possibly lend… The two of us are not particularly close, after all. What if you asked Maihama-san, or…?”
Aira-sama shook her head and took my hands into hers.
“That’s not true. I know you can do it, Reika-chan! Back at the school festival the only time Masaya stopped looking moody was when he saw you in your butler outfit. He said something about you not listening to what he said at all. Masaya rarely shows any interest in any girl that isn’t Yurie, you know!”
He wasn’t interested in me so much as in pointing out why my costume was bad, though.
“And I feel a little bad for saying this, but I don’t think Ema-san could move Masaya’s heart,” she declared.
“Please, Reika-chan! Yurie’s been feeling responsible for it all and has been in really bad shape. Couldn’t you give Masaya some advice or something to cheer him up? Please?”
Uuuu… It was really hard to refuse Aira-sama like this…
But I didn’t wanna do itttt. I had no idea how to cheer somebody like that up, and to begin with I didn’t want to get involved.
“Uu… I understand.”
────I had taken the first step into a bottomless bog.
Advice… What kind of advice was I even supposed to give?
Ways to get over heartbreak? This was actually the best chance for him to start a new love with Wakaba-chan, but there were no signs of that at all.
What if I tried spurring Wakaba-chan on? No, no, it wouldn’t do to cross any more dangerous bridges than I already had.
Oh, how about…
I called out to Kaburagi while he was sitting blankly in the salon. Sitting next to him, Enjou smiled.
“Why not leave behind the troubles of the material world and join one of the strictly male convents in Europe? How about it? The World of Roses awaits you.”
“Kisshouin-san, could I have a word with you?” smiled Enjou as he grabbed my arm and pulled me away.
“Why exactly does Masaya have to get a tonsure and join a convent? And in Europe too.”
“As a scion of the Kaburagi house, I believed it suitable for him to go to the true home of convents.”
Wow, somebody’s being picky.
I returned to Kaburagi for another try.
“Kaburagi-sama, Japan has Mount Hiei and Mount Kouya. How about it? Throw away your worldly ties, shave your head, and enter the service of the Buddha. I think the shaved-look would suit you very well, Kaburagi-sama. You might even get a chance to meet Saigyou’s homunculus.”
“Kisshouin-san, could I have a word with you?” said Enjou, grabbing my arm a little stronger than last time and pulling me away. “Do you think you could maybe step away from advice that involves running away from home? Kisshouin-san, you’re really just trying to seal something troublesome far away, aren’t you?”
“Goodness, no! I thought that it might be best if he had a change of pace. My intentions are entirely pure.”
How mean. Doubting people’s sincerity like that is just proof that his own heart is twisted.
“A tonsure… Monkhood…” we heard Kaburagi mutter.
“You see? Kaburagi-sama seems to be interested as well. Kaburagi-sama, I personally recommend the tonsure!”
“Kisshouin-san, that’s enough out of you.”
Despite the efforts I used to come up with this advice, Enjou shooed me away. I thought it was pretty good advice too.
I only wanted the best for him.
‘We’ll do something about Masaya on our own. Thanks.’
said a message from Aira-sama.
Goodness, is that so? I apologise for not being able to help.