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    Due to his carelessness, Yujin had almost lost his life, so Cairo couldn’t forgive himself, and he truly had no excuse for Urich’s words.

    ‘What is he saying now?’

    But Yujin didn’t think that way. What kind of misplaced anger was this? How could Cairo have known there would be poison in the letter and prevented it?

    Yujin was confused whether he should think of this as Cairo caring too much about him or rather seeing him as worthless.

    ‘I was going to scold him, but in this state, I can’t even do that…’

    Even though he had intended to say something about Cairo trying to kill someone, in his current state, even the slightest hint of blame would likely make Cairo feel that everything was his fault and want to bury himself in the ground. And not just figuratively speaking.

    “…Come here for now.”

    “…”

    “My arm is starting to hurt, you know?”

    Pretending to be in pain, Cairo finally approached, dragging his feet. Taking advantage of this moment, Yujin gestured to the other two for their understanding.

    Unlike Yujin, the two who agreed with Cairo’s opinion were displeased, but with a small sigh, they briefly stepped aside.

    When Yujin tugged on Cairo’s hand, he could have easily resisted but instead plopped down heavily. Yujin, pondering how to begin, decided to first send away the others who were crowding around them.

    ‘There’s no need to keep those people standing here… And I have things to say too.’

    “Shall we send those people away first?”

    “Leave. Lock them up in the dungeon.”

    “…Yes, Your Highness.”

    Cairo immediately carried out Yujin’s suggestion, showing the strange ability to maintain a dignified air despite his gloomy face. Fortunately, only Yujin noticed this discrepancy.

    If the knights who feared Cairo while admiring his strength, or those who had nearly lost their lives by his hand had seen it, it would have been quite an unfair sight.

    As people flowed out like the receding tide, leaving only the four of them in the space, Yujin opened his mouth. At first, he thought to comfort Cairo, swayed by his gloomy face, but on second thought, he realized that wouldn’t do.

    Cairo wasn’t that child from back then anymore, and to break his bad habit of blaming himself for things that weren’t his fault, Yujin couldn’t just coddle him.

    Having organized his thoughts, Yujin nodded and spoke firmly.

    “There’s a lot to say… but first, I need to address your attitude of blaming yourself.”

    At Yujin’s words, Cairo began to listen intently, as if he would truly stab himself if Yujin told him to die. No, it seemed like he already had his hand on the knife.

    Yujin tried to ignore that scene, thinking “surely not,” and began his lecture.

    “What exactly do you think of me?”

    “…Huh?”

    Cairo was taken aback by the unexpected question. He thought he would be reprimanded for failing to protect Yujin, but to be asked how he thought of Yujin? Before he could even think about it, his mouth opened on its own.

    “I love you.”

    “Huh? Oh, oh. Thank you.”

    It was Yujin’s turn to be flustered by the sudden, raw confession. Of course, he couldn’t help but be flustered. No matter how he thought about it, that “I love you” didn’t seem to mean the same as “Mom, Dad, I love you~”.

    ‘Stop, stop thinking about it.’

    At least now wasn’t the time to be consumed with figuring out what it meant. Blocking his thoughts with a defense mechanism triggered in his brain, Yujin continued speaking.

    “But why are you acting like this?”

    “…Did I do something wrong again?”

    Yujin had intended to speak firmly from the start, worried that if Cairo developed a habit of apologizing and taking responsibility for things that weren’t his fault, it would lead to big problems. But somehow, the response didn’t seem right.

    ‘Actually, I didn’t even speak that harshly, did I?’

    It was merely the process of setting the stage. He had planned to express anger, not real anger, saying that anyone could see it wasn’t Cairo’s fault, but seeing him already react as if the world had ended, Yujin’s mouth clamped shut.

    ‘This, if I speak harshly, he’ll definitely be shocked.’

    Even someone without much tact could have predicted this. Quickly changing his approach, Yujin had no choice but to comfort Cairo again this time.

    “No, I don’t mean it’s your fault. I’m asking why you’re taking on blame for things that aren’t even your fault. Have I ever gotten angry at you, saying it was your fault?”

    The meaning aligned with what Yujin had thought internally, but his voice was much softer and gentler. At this, the shock on Cairo’s face began to subside a bit. But he still looked so gloomy that Yujin inwardly sighed.

    ‘Oh my, I don’t know why these smart guys act like this only when it comes to me.’

    Wasn’t this reaction beyond just liking someone? Even Yujin, who knew something about Espers and Guides, couldn’t fully understand their deep and immense affection, not being one of them himself.

    But he couldn’t show that, so Yujin squeezed Cairo’s hand that he was holding. No matter how hard Yujin tried, he couldn’t hurt Cairo, but Yujin applied pressure strongly yet gently.

    “I’m upset too, you know. The more you blame yourself, the more I can’t help but blame myself.”

    At those words, Cairo lifted his head as if to say, “How can you say such a thing?”

    “Yujin is not at fault.”

    “No, that’s not right. If you keep blaming yourself for not protecting me, then I have no choice but to blame myself for not being careful enough.”

    “That’s…”

    Cairo wanted to deny Yujin’s words, but he couldn’t readily do so. It wasn’t just that he didn’t want to deny Yujin’s words, but also that it felt strange to say that while his own thoughts were correct, Yujin thinking that way was wrong.

    Yujin, having pointed out this awkward flaw in logic, continued speaking.

    “Shall I say more? Beyond me not being careful enough, the very fact that I came here in the first place becomes a mistake.”

    “That’s…!”

    Cairo was afraid that Yujin might say he was going to leave. Even Urich and Haniel, who were watching, couldn’t just feel smug about it because they too couldn’t assert that such things would never happen to them.

    For Haniel, it was because there were still meddlesome old men alive despite him being the Pope, and for Urich, it was simply because he had many enemies. So, despite this being a rare opportunity to bring Yujin over to their side, they couldn’t interject and quietly turned their heads away.

    “Why? It’s true, isn’t it? If I hadn’t come here, I wouldn’t have experienced this. So it’s my fault for following you here, thinking it was good.”

    “Don’t… say that.”

    “Cairo…?”

    “I won’t do it… I won’t say it’s my fault… So please don’t say you regret being with me…”

    “Are you… crying?”

    Startled by Cairo, who was not just hurt but even shedding tears, Yujin instinctively embraced him. Crying? Cairo was crying?

    Surprised by the trembling voice, Yujin wondered if he had misunderstood something, but even when he slightly pulled away to look again, what was streaming down Cairo’s handsome cheeks were clearly tears.

    ‘Wow, but how can he look so handsome even when crying… No, that’s not the point.’

    Who said tears were a woman’s weapon? Tears were a handsome man’s weapon. While Yujin was momentarily at a loss for words due to the almost violent beauty, there was a reaction from the side as if they too had nothing to say.

    “Has he really gone mad…?”

    Urich marveled at Cairo’s behavior, shedding tears just to avoid being abandoned by Yujin. He himself could cry buckets if it meant appeasing Yujin’s anger, but he hadn’t done anything wrong this time.

    “Urich…!”

    Yujin, worried that Cairo might get hurt, quickly silenced Urich who was expressing his shock in a disgruntled voice, and hastily offered explanations.

    “I don’t mean I regret it. I’m saying if you say it’s your fault, then that would be the case. I absolutely don’t regret meeting you guys and following you.”

    Rather, how thankful he was to have them with him in this strange world. How could he regret that? When he honestly shared this thought, Cairo, who had been shedding big tears, asked back.

    “Anyway, so don’t keep blaming yourself, saying it’s your fault. It makes me upset to see it too.”

    “…You’re upset? Because of me?”

    “Yes. Do you know how heartbreaking it is to see you so dejected, acting like you’ve committed a mortal sin for something that’s not even your fault?”

    Cairo lightly placed his hand over his heart, feeling the vibrations in his chest. Thump, thump. His heart was beating at a pace that seemed a bit fast.

    It was strange. Yujin said he was upset, and that he was upset because of him, yet instead of his heart sinking, it started beating faster.

    Although the reason for Yujin’s emotions was somewhat obsessively focused on himself, Cairo didn’t clearly grasp this and just nodded in response to Yujin’s urging, saying he understood.

    “Okay, I won’t do it anymore from now on.”

    “Good, that’s a good boy. Now stop crying. Your handsome face is all… well, you’re still handsome even like this, but let’s stop crying anyway.”

    Usually, when people cry, they tend to look a bit messy, but somehow, instead of looking disheveled, there was only a beautiful man steeped in melancholy, making Yujin briefly resent the unfairness of reality.

    Watching Cairo even getting patted by Yujin, Urich felt bitter and used magic to switch places with Cairo.

    He had hoped that with the sudden change in position, Cairo would fall ungracefully, but Cairo regained his balance so quickly it was almost as if nothing had happened.

    “You…”

    Then, as he glared at Urich, he looked like a completely different person from the one who had just been acting like the most pitiful person in the world, with a faint yet palpable killing intent.

    “Tsk. Your Highness, sometimes you should show a more human side. No, you did look human earlier, indeed.”

    Urich tried to tease Cairo about crying earlier, but Cairo wasn’t the type to be embarrassed by such things. He could cry a thousand or ten thousand times more if it meant improving Yujin’s mood.

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