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At least you'll never be a vegetable

Even artichokes have hearts.

Chapter 12 - 運命(フォルトゥーナ) Fortune (Fortuna)
Tego
9kinds
Mitsuko’s copy of The Prince is worn has writing on the pages. Kouta can pick out both Mitsuko’s handwriting and that of someone else. Kouta’s impression of The Prince had been of  Machiavellianism and the negation of that. From his studies in high school, he knew that the image of Machiavellianism, that the end justifies the means, is actually different from the ideology in the book. He recalls how he made a smart aleck remark about how misunderstood Machiavelli is in class making his classmates laugh.

He read the passages that were the cause of the misunderstanding. The Prince raises Cesare Borgia as an example of a capable ruler to warn against the misuse of benevolence. Cesare was thought of as a cruel and coldhearted figure, but it is because of those qualities that he was able to quell the turmoil and return unity and peace in Romagna. In the process, he just carried out the minimal punishment, hence benevolence instead invites disorder. In comparison to a leader who ignores slaughter and pillage, Cesare is much more benevolent.

Kouta says that he himself doesn’t understand now which action is correct, more virtuous, more full of love- to preserve the order through small punishment or to overlook without punishing. Cesare is described as a very charismatic person. To Kouta, it is clear that Machiavelli must have admired him, and that he was a courageous and intelligent person. In his mind the image of Cesare becomes overlapped with that of Shizuku of the past and Mizutani.

The second time he visits Mitsuko’s house, he rattles on about these things. Mitsuko seems half sick of it but smiles and tells him she’s glad he enjoyed it so much. It’s a Sunday a week after his last visit. They’re supposed to discuss the internship, but as Kouta has just finished reading The Prince he wants to discuss it. As she’s laying out the internship materials he asks Mitsuko if she likes The Prince and she replies that rather than like, it’s more that she just studied it a bit in the past.

Kouta expresses surprise because she had written and marked a lot in the book which had helped him understand the book. He asks her if she had lent the book to someone else, and she stops what she’s doing and says that she received it from someone at work, because they had really liked it. Kouta asks her if this person was a man and when she says it was he asks if it had been someone she was seeing. Instead of replying, Mitsuko goes to the kitchen and fills a kettle with water.

Kouta asks her again intending only to tease her, but as she steadfastly tries to avoid the topic he becomes more and more curious. She changes the topic by asking him what part left the biggest impression on him, and he can’t help but tell her that it was the lion and fox part. He tells her that he felt down upon realizing that he had neither the cunning of a fox nor the strength of a lion.

Mitsuko counters, telling him that he is cunning and Kouta protests that it’s just slyness. Mitsuko smiles at that and then brings them both a mug of tea. She tells him that she had liked chapter 25, on the power fortune holds over man and the ways to combat that, she says she found it a little erotic.

She pours Kouta some tea and he find himself watching her fingers, when he’s with her he’s always watching them, they appear to have a life of their own apart from her. Without thinking he reaches out and toucher her hand but retreats when she asks him what’s wrong. She acts as if nothing has happened and picks up the internship materials. Kouta sips on the tea to calm himself, but it has the opposite effect and he touches her hand again. When she looks up at him he kisses her, but she tells him he can’t. That the first time was unavoidable, but from now on they can’t. If they do, they won’t be able to go back. When he questions what she means, she says that it wouldn’t be good for either of them.

Kouta is a bit wounded by the word unavoidable, but knows that she’s right that if they cross this line their relationship will change and so he shouldn’t touch her. To calm down he stands up and walks to the window and starts to smoke. He remembers the day when he fought with Megumi, he also smoked by the open window like this and then he and Megumi had sex.

He realizes what’s gotten him worked up are the writings in Mitsuko’s copy of The Prince by some unknown man. Imagining his hands touching hers has made him jealous. He doesn’t want to recognize this feeling, as she is just a customer, not anyone to get jealous over. It’s his job to temp and play around with her.

Mitsuko apologizes and Kouta realizes his hands are shaking and apologizes to her too. She comes up behind him and holds on to his shaking hands and he notes that her age is apparent in her hands, the skin soft and no longer supple. He finds it unbearably cute. He tells her that there’s an eyelash on her cheek, then once she closes her eyes he touches her cheek and kisses her.

Mitsuko is surprised and pulls away from him and Kouta goes back to smoking and tells her that he thinks it’s best if he not come here anymore. Mitsuko begins to cry and apologizes like she’s saying it both to Kouta and to someone else who isn’t there. Unable to bear that, he kisses her again and touches her body realizing things that he didn’t before. Their relationship has begun to change and warp in a bad way, but he can’t stop. As if his body has separated from his soul and gained independence, out of control it seeks to drown in her body. A more primal part of him seeks her as if trying to return to the mother’s womb. As if his soul is being pulled, guided, and sucked in by that body’s soul. He feels their souls mix and become tightly knit.

As they have sex, Kouta curses the selfishness of fortune. In chapter 25, Machiavelli said as follows, “I conclude, therefore that, fortune being changeful and mankind steadfast in their ways, so long as the two are in agreement men are successful, but unsuccessful when they fall out. For my part I consider that it is better to be adventurous than cautious, because fortune is a woman, and if you wish to keep her under it is necessary to beat and ill-use her; and it is seen that she allows herself to be mastered by the adventurous rather than by those who go to work more coldly. She is, therefore, always, woman-like, a lover of young men, because they are less cautious, more violent, and with more audacity command her.

Kouta thinks to himself, ‘I’m not wrong after all.'