Sheryl shooed Erio and Alicia out of the room. Although from the outside, it looked like Sheryl was only telling them to get back to their work, Erio and Alicia felt like Sheryl was actually telling them to get out from that room and not disturb her and Akira. So they flusteredly exited the room.
Sheryl stood up. Akira thought that she would cling onto him again, but instead, she sat across him. She then made a serious face as she said to him.
“Akira, do you have anything you want me to do for you?”
“That’s out of the blue.”
“You always help us, so I was wondering if I can do anything to pay you back after receiving so much. You can ask anything of me or even from all of us.”
Judging from her expression, it did not seem like Sheryl was happy after receiving such an expensive item. But instead, it seemed like it made her rather desperate.
Akira took some time thinking of what to say, but nothing came up in his mind.
“Nothing comes up in my mind at the moment. I’ll come again and ask you when I have anything I want from you.”
Normally, Sheryl would have stopped here after Akira said that, but not this time. She kept her serious expression as she stared at him. From Akira’s point of view, it was as if Sheryl was begging or pleading to him.
“Is there really nothing? You can ask anything. It doesn’t matter if it’s an easy thing or a difficult thing, will you please ask something, anything?”
Sheryl thought that it would be really bad if she did not return Akira’s favour even if it was only a little bit. But she did not even have the slightest hint of what she could do for Akira.
Because of that, Sheryl decided to directly ask Akira. If it was out of Akira’s request rather than her own idea, there would be less chance that it might annoy him, while at the same time, it would also have a better chance to make him happy.
Sheryl, who did not want Akira to abandon her, would do anything that she could for Akira even if he asked her for something difficult. If he told her to get naked, get on her knees, and lick his feet, she might as well do that without a shred of hesitation.
Sheryl’s seriousness was conveyed to Akira. But he did not know what suddenly got into her. Even if she asked him to request something, he could not come up with anything at all.
“Well, even if you ask me so, I really have nothing to ask from you right now…”
Akira understood Sheryl would not back down unless he asked her for something.
He was put under pressure by Sheryl as he was racking his brain for anything to ask of her. He thought that asking her to give him a shoulder massage would not be enough. Meanwhile, Sheryl’s serious gaze was being counter-effective, it brought her further away from her objective because it made Akira think that he should not ask an easy thing from her.
After taking his time thinking, Akira finally came up with something.
“Ah, right. In that case, just give the slum children good food and teach them how to read and write.”
Sheryl was dumbfounded when she heard what Akira said. She looked puzzled as she asked him.
“…Is that really enough?”
Sheryl had no idea what kind of profit it would bring Akira even if she did what he asked.
But Akira sounded a bit surprised as he replied.
“To be honest, I thought I asked something that was really hard, you know. If it’s really an easy thing for you, then can you just do that for me? I’ll leave the details to you, but make sure that it’s a realistic plan.”
Sheryl swiftly replied with a serious expression.
“I understand, I’ll give my best in doing it.”
“Aahh, and also, don’t tell anyone that I’m the one asking you to do that. If someone asks you why, just come up with a random excuse.”
Sheryl firmly nodded.
“Alright, I’ll never tell anyone.”
Sheryl had no idea why Akira would ask her to do that. She knew very well that Akira was not someone who was kind enough to ask others to do a good deed. What he asked of her was not something that could bring direct profit for him. And even if Akira did that to get his name out as a good Samaritan, then he would definitely not ask her to hide his name.
But for Sheryl, that was not where the important point laid. The important point was that Akira asked her to do that while thinking that it was a difficult request for her. Thus if she could do it, Akira would at least think she was useful to him.
Sheryl made her resolve that she would make use of anything and everything in order to accomplish Akira’s request.
Alpha did not understand why Akira would even come up with such an idea. She was always quietly but closely observing Akira, assessing his way of thinking, trying to understand the principles behind his actions, and continuously trying to control him.
But Akira’s action just now was unexpected even to Alpha. In order to understand him deeper, Alpha thought that there was a need to understand the reason behind this action.
Alpha then asked Akira in a very calm manner, such that it prevented him from reading what Alpha was actually thinking, thus hiding her surprise.
“Akira, why did you ask Sheryl to do that?”
“How should I put this, uhh, providing education and food for the slum children is a good deed, right?”
“Well, it sure is.”
“If I ask Sheryl to do that, then it would be my good deed although an indirect one, right? I just thought that it might help me fight my bad luck.”
So basically, it was like a subcontract for Akira’s good deed. If bad deeds beget bad things, then good deeds should beget good things. In short, by pushing Sheryl to do a good deed, Akira thought that it might help lift some of his bad luck.
In the end, leaving the fact that Akira was seeking a superstitious and occult thing like good luck, the only reason why he asked Sheryl to do that was for his own selfish intention.
“And why did you ask her not to say that it’s your idea?”
“If others come to know that it was my idea, I somehow feel that it would only bring me trouble.”
The reason why Akira asked Sheryl to keep it a secret was to avoid getting roped into any trouble afterwards. It was not a rare story when somebody came to help someone in need and quickly disappeared without asking for any reward or leaving behind any name. Akira was twisted enough to interpret such a heroic story as though that person did not want others to know his or her name because people would swarm into that person for free help. So, it would be a huge pain in the ass if other people knew his identity.
Akira was pushing any possible troubles that might come from such a good deed to Sheryl while trying to reap some profit from it. That was also the reason why he said that he thought it was a difficult request for Sheryl.
Alpha was relieved since it was not like Akira suddenly had a change of heart and became a good person, after all, it meant that she did not misevaluate him. The more selfish Akira was, the easier it was for her to control him, thus it would be troublesome for her if he suddenly became a selfless person.
“I see, I understand now. Although, I don’t think it’ll give the result that you’re hoping.”
“Well, to be honest, I’m not placing much hope for its result anyway. I just randomly came up with that idea. And even if it has no effect at all, it’s not like it’ll cause me any harm.”
“That’s true. Well, even if it causes you some harm later, I don’t mind as long as you don’t try to put your life at risk just to cover for someone else. Remember that I only have you, so I don’t want you to put yourself in unnecessary danger, okay?”
“I have no problem abandoning a hostage who has nothing to do with me. So I won’t do such a thing. You know that all too well don’t you, Alpha?”
“Now that you mention it, you’re right.”
When he was in the underground, Akira did not drop his weapon even when Yajima took Reina hostage. Akira himself knew that he was a cold-hearted person.
But on the other hand, Alpha still remembered when Akira did not hesitate to shoot and kill the person who threatened to harm Shizuka inside Sheryl’s base. Akira also took an SOS request, which he had rejected, when he knew Sara and Elena participated in intercepting the monster swarm even when it meant that he had to go alone.
Alpha could not make any predictions about what Akira would do if one day Shizuka or Elena or Sara were taken hostage.
After both of them returned back to Sheryl’s room, Sheryl returned to clinging on Akira again. Although he was planning to leave the base right after, he was overwhelmed by Sheryl as he was pulled by her to her room.
Sheryl was charging herself by clinging to him. Akira did not know it, but Sheryl was actually using him as her psychical support. When she could not contact Akira, she was tremendously stressed. Because of that, she took way more time than usual clinging to him when normally 1 hour would be enough to recover her calmness.
Now that Sheryl had recovered her calm, there were 2 things racing through her mind.
First of all, she was thinking about what she could do to get in a deeper relationship with Akira. Sheryl understood that Akira right now was in a situation where he was susceptible to get swept by the flow. At the moment, he would get swept by the mood no matter how far it would go. Thus, Sheryl was thinking about how to use this chance to get as close as possible to him so that he would not easily abandon her.
Although it was just her baseless intuition, Sheryl thought that if only Akira did something with her, would it give a clear indication about their relationship and prove that she was his favourite.
The other thing that was running inside her mind was that it was time to pull away as she was still clinging on Akira. Even though there was a similar aged beautiful girl, who had told him that he could do anything he wanted to her in the past, clinging to him right now, he did not do anything to her at all. Sheryl did not know whether it was because Akira simply had no interest in such a thing or it was because he was holding himself back since he knew that it would cause him a lot of trouble.
It would be pointless if she rushed herself in trying to get close to Akira to only annoy him instead. If Akira looked annoyed when she was clinging to him, it would damage her psychical state too, and that was something that she would not want to happen.
Akira noticed that Sheryl had a lot of things inside her mind. But he did not know what she was thinking nor had any interest in knowing about it at all. He only thought that Sheryl must have a lot of things to worry about as the boss of the gang and stopped thinking any further.
He then spent some time talking with Sheryl to gather some information about the slum city. Suddenly someone knocked on the door. They both quickly turned towards the source of that sound. The person who just knocked at the door waited outside for an answer.
After Sheryl replied back, Alicia entered the room. Showing her close relationship with Akira was an important thing for Sheryl to keep her position as the gang’s leader as well as for the safety of her gang. Akira understood that too, that was why he did not try to get Sheryl off his lap. But he still felt a little bit embarrassed being seen like this, thus he averted his eyes from Alicia to a random place in the room.
Sheryl was still clinging on Akira as she asked Alicia.
“Do you need anything?”
“Ah, it’s nothing, it’s already your bath time. So I was wondering if you’re going to take a bath today. If you’re not then someone else might use the bath instead.”
Alicia was there to remind Sheryl that it was her bath time.
There was a bathroom inside the gang’s base. Everyone in the gang was using the bath in turns since it was not big enough for all. Due to the same reason, the bathroom was always occupied except for when it was cleaned, or when the next person took his or her turn. And with more and more children joining the gang, it was incredibly difficult for everyone to get their turn for taking a bath every day.
Because of that, Sheryl wanted to limit herself from occupying the bath for an extended time. It was not like she could not do that, but it’ll definitely cause displeasure among her subordinates. And so Sheryl always used the bath every day at a fixed time.
Since Sheryl was not using the bath even though it was already her bath time, Alicia came to check her. If she was not going to use the bath, Alicia was planning to use the bath with Erio before letting other children use it.
Sheryl was a bit surprised when she realized how long she had been talking with Akira.
“It’s already that late? I’ll go, wait for a sec.”
Sheryl stepped down from Akira and grabbed her toiletries, she kept her toiletries in her room since it would be gone in no time if she left them in the bathroom.
Akira then mumbled.
“Bath, huh… I guess I’ll go back home and take a bath too.”
It had been a week since the last time Akira took a bath. Although he felt all refreshed after all the treatments that he received, it did not change the fact that it had been so long since the last time he took a bath. As Akira was thinking of going back home soon, he extended his arm to reach for his rucksack, but Alpha suddenly asked him.
“Akira, where are you planning to go?”
“My inn, of course.”
“You no longer have the room in the inn that you were renting before you were hospitalized. You need to look for a place to sleep first before you can take a rest, you know?”
Akira stopped, Alpha was right. It was already past the stay duration in that inn. Everything that he left behind inside his room, including all his medicines and ammo, would have been confiscated by the inn.
“…So I should look for a place to stay now, huh? Well, I’m sure I can find one though.”
The day had already gone dark, there was a good chance that all the good rooms were already taken. The only rooms that he could still find would be either cheap rooms with only showers or super luxury rooms, but Akira had no plans to stay in such a room. Although he wanted to take a bath, it was not like he had enough surplus money to waste on a luxury room.
When Akira imagined himself walking around in the lower district in the middle of the night looking for a good place to rest, it made him lose all motivation to leave. Since he was already thinking of going back home to take a good rest, it made him way less motivated when he thought that he had to carry his heavy rucksack while walking through the lower district.
Sheryl noticed that slight change in Akira and asked him.
“Akira, what’s wrong?”
“Well, I just realized that it’s already late but I still have to look for a place to stay.”
Judging from Akira’s voice and behaviour, Sheryl knew that he really did not want to do that.
“If it’s alright with you, you can stay for a night in my room. Although it doesn’t have furniture like in an inn, at least, it has a bed to sleep.”
“Are you sure? But I want to take a good long bath too…”
Akira was not sure what to do. He was wondering if it was a better idea to take Sheryl’s offer rather than walking through the lower district when it was already dark and relatively dangerous. He knew that it had been so long since the last time he took a bath, the more he thought about it, the more he wanted to take a bath, and that made him lean more towards looking somewhere to stay in the lower district.
Sheryl, who had recovered her calm, could understand what was going through Akira’s mind. Thus, she gave him a suggestion, although she knew that he would refuse it anyway.
“Want to go with me? We can take our time enjoying the bath before others come to use it. We have a big bath, you can even extend your hands and legs in it. And I’m sure there’s no one stupid enough in this gang to steal your belongings. If it still worries you, you can place your belongings near the bath and you can watch over them through the transparent glass.”
Akira hesitated. The biggest reason why he hesitated was because he was worried about his belongings. He was inside Sheryl’s base and not in the slum city alley, so he did not know just how safe this place was. His hesitation showed that to a certain extent. He thought this place was safe, but at the same time, he also thought that it was not. He was in a dilemma.
Sheryl’s words did reduce his worry, but it was not enough to make him decide on what to do.
Since it seemed that Akira would not be able to decide anytime soon, Alpha also gave him an extra push to make his decision.
“If you’re worried about getting attacked, rest easy. I’ll be watching your surroundings just like always. You’ll be able to know immediately if someone steals your belongings.”
“Is that so? Then it should be okay, right?”
Sheryl then said something that caused Akira to quickly make his decision.
“Our bath time is getting shorter right now… so…?”
Sheryl looked at Akira’s expression and knew his answer before he could even say anything.
Akira dipped inside the big bath in Sheryl’s base. He extended his legs and arms as he sunk himself up to his neck and surrendered his whole body to the pleasure of the warm bath.
He could feel tiredness, which should have not been inside his body after all the treatments that he received, melting into the water. Whether it was his psychical tiredness or just an illusion, it did not change the fact that he was being healed.
He left all of his belongings in the changing room. And in order to make sure that no one would try to snatch them, Erio and Alicia were keeping watch outside the changing room.
A guard was always present there when Sheryl or other girls were taking a bath. There were already cases where some children tried to peek, and of course, those children were already kicked out from Sheryl’s gang.
As Akira was looking forward with his numbed mind, he could see Sheryl washing her body in front of him. He had already washed his body with the soap that he borrowed from Sheryl before getting into the bath. Although they had more or less started washing their bodies at the same time, Sheryl was taking a considerably longer time than him.
Akira wondered for an instant if there was really a need to wash that rigorously, but his question was quickly swallowed by the pleasure from the bath and vanished. After all, for him, it was not an important question.
Sheryl took very good care in washing her body and her hair. She understood very well that her appearance was an indispensable asset in order to get the upper hand during a negotiation. As such, she put a lot of effort into polishing her body.
The cosmetics and the soap that Sheryl received the other day from Katsuragi were luxurious goods judging from the slum city’s standard, and she was using those goods to polish her appearance. Thanks to that, she was able to regain the beautiful hair and skin that she had lost because of the poor living condition in the slum city.
The hot water raised the beauty and charm of Sheryl’s lustrous skin. It was beautiful enough to make the young boys of the slum city bet all the great benefits that they got from joining Sheryl’s gang just to get a peek of her beauty.
Now then, since they lost their bet when they were caught peeking, not only were they unable to see Sheryl’s beautiful naked body, they were also kicked out from the gang with nothing but the clothes that they were wearing. If they were still alive, they would be deeply regretting their decision, but also thinking that they should have at least sneaked a peek before getting kicked out from the gang.
After she finished washing her body, Sheryl went towards the bath. Akira quickly turned his gaze to her out of reflex since something within his views suddenly moved. Sheryl, who felt his gaze, blushed as she walked to the bath.
Despite the fact that Sheryl had given her consent for Akira to take a bath together with her, she still felt embarrassed having someone of the same age and opposite gender looking at her naked body. But even so, she did not show any hesitation nor did she try to hide her body with her hands as she walked to the bath. Although she was embarrassed, she still dipped herself into the bath as if she was showing off her beautiful and near-perfect body to Akira.
Sheryl watched closely how Akira reacted. His gaze was just simply following an object that was moving within his field of view, thus after she stopped making any big moves, his gaze returned to the empty space in front of him. With the exception of one part, to be more precise, her chest area, she was actually pretty confident about her body. That was why Sheryl was quite shocked when Akira barely made any reactions as if he had no interest in her body at all.
Sheryl embarrassedly asked Akira.
“…Uhm… What do you think?”
Akira looked around before replying.
Some of Akira’s consciousness had already melted into the warm water. Thus when Sheryl asked him that question, he could only use his half-working brain to interpret it and answer back while still in his dazed state.
Sheryl, who still had her brain working normally, understood why Akira even came up with such an answer. Although she had embarrassedly asked him such a question, he thought that she was asking about his impression of the bathroom, and he answered back saying that he was pretty much impressed by its size.
She was a bit depressed when she realized that her body, which she was so confident of, was turned into mere decoration inside the bathroom. She sunk deeper into the bath, some bubbles came out from her mouth which was under the water, which seemed like she was badmouthing Akira.
[…I did say that the bathroom is big, so he should have known that before, right?]
Sheryl was pouting while staring at Akira. From her gaze, Akira realized that he might have said something bad. But with half of his consciousness taken away by the warm water, he could not correctly interpret her question nor come up with the correct reaction.
Whenever Akira took a bath in his inn, Alpha was always together with him. Although it was only an image, he was already used to taking a bath together with someone else. That was one of the reasons why he was barely bothered at all by Sheryl, who was taking a bath together with him right now.
Akira was, to a certain extent, already used to taking a bath together with an extremely beautiful and charming girl. Because of that, his sexual drive was extremely low. This might be the result of Alpha’s anti-honeytrap training. Or maybe it was simply because, for Akira, nothing could beat the pleasure of the warm bath.
Judging from Akira’s reaction, it seemed that the time that she spent polishing her body after telling Akira that he could do anything with her was all for vain. Sheryl let out a big sigh as she understood that fact.
She decided to move on and looked at Akira who was enjoying the bath. Since Akira was surrendering his whole body to the pleasure of the bath, it seemed like he had completely dropped his guard. The Akira in front of her right now did not seem like a skilled Hunter who could easily pay someone 10,000,000 Aurum. His fully relaxed expression made him look like one of those common young boys that she could find anywhere in the slum.
Looking at the relaxed Akira, Sheryl thought that if he really was one of those common young boys, she might be able to solve most of her problems if she used her body to seduce him. If she took Akira’s hand and guided it along her body, or entangled her legs with Akira’s and put her lips on his, Akira should at least get aroused. She believed that her body should be charming enough for most members of the opposite gender. If her assumption was true, then deep inside, Akira might actually not hate this idea.
Sheryl imagined what would happen if she pushed herself to Akira. She thought that he would accept it while only resisting verbally. Akira’s seemingly defenceless state caused her to be less cautious as her imaginations and assumptions leaned more towards good-case scenarios. These abnormal thoughts corroded Sheryl’s judgement. Although she herself was not aware of it, she was actually in an aroused state.
When Sheryl extended her hand and tried to reach Akira, she noticed that he was staring at her.
Akira locked his cold gaze at Sheryl. He was carefully observing her moves and judging whether the person in front of him posed a danger to him or not.
Akira could subconsciously feel some kind of suspicious intent from Sheryl, although it was not malice, it was definitely not benevolence. Because of that, he quickly snapped back to his senses.
Sheryl was immediately frozen in place. The common young boy in front of her completely vanished, and in its place, she could see a cold-blooded young Hunter who would kill without even a shred of hesitation. All the optimistic imaginations that were inside her mind a few seconds ago were completely erased. Then, in the very next moment, Akira’s gaze turned back to normal.
Akira himself did not realize his change. So from his perspective, it only looked like Sheryl was about to move and then suddenly stopped.
Akira made a puzzled face as he asked Sheryl.
“A-ah, it’s nothing.”
“Hm? I see.”
Akira ignored the fact that Sheryl was stuttering when she answered back as he once again focused on enjoying the bath. Akira’s expression loosened and returned back to before. As he once more relaxed his body, his consciousness once again melted into the warm water.
Sheryl felt relieved when she saw that, it seemed that Akira’s mood had returned back to normal.
[…That was dangerous, that was so stupid of me. If seduction worked on Akira, he would have been seduced a long time ago. I should be more careful.]
Sheryl then tried to imagine what would have happened if she had pushed herself on Akira. In her imagination, she saw him quickly grabbing her by her throat and pressing her against the floor. Seeing such a scene, she then decided to stop herself from imagining any further than this.
[…As I thought, my only choice is either to make Akira take the initiative or getting his permission first before trying to seduce him.]
Sheryl thought it was already good enough for now that Akira was willing to get in a bath together with her.
And so Sheryl decided to spend the rest of her bathing time to just enjoy the bath and recover from all the tiredness she accumulated from the day’s work.
Silavin: Hmm… well, it is to be expected. Now, I kinda wonder if Sheryl actually has feeling for Akira or not. Whether their relationship is strictly business. I am aware that Akira does not see it as strictly business (inclusive of the luck aspect).
On the other hand, if Sheryl simply was honest about caring about his well being, I’m pretty sure their relationship would have settled pretty quickly.