Horizon:Kimitoasamade 2B Chapter 20
Chapter 20: Respecter in a Warm Place
How do you enjoy
Touching them and rubbing them
Massaging them and pressing your cheek against them?
Point Allocation (Understanding)
Suzu was working in the changing room.
She was pulling out and setting up an acoustic device in the corner of the changing room for the women’s bath. The device named Accompaniment #3 was a wooden box sitting a meter tall, but it contained an entertainment god household shrine and an amplifier torii. Her father had told her it was like a tiny shrine, but her mother had said it was wasted on their family.
At the end of the month, a singing competition was held in the women’s bath for the students who were their primary customers. That was what this device was used for. It was not the end of the month now, but…
…We’re all about to use it.
She was surrounded by Asama, Kimi, Mitotsudaira, Naito, Naruze, and Adele.
They all held deck brushes, charms, and baskets as they replaced the consumable supplies and cleaned.
This was all because the Student Council had requested that Asama take part in the Gagaku Festival. To celebrate that and hold a planning meeting, they were going to discuss who she should perform with and other details.
So they were cleaning.
Suzu was thankful that Naruze and Naito were here because they were checking the output of the cauldron set up below the bath.
“Bell-yan, the output is probably shifting out of place here, so you need to keep an eye on that.”
“I think the reinforced firewood is burning itself onto the bottom. It’s hard to see due to the curve of the cauldron, so I’ll use a quick soot-removing spell.”
“Thank you,” replied Suzu.
“It’s a standard Technohexen spell since we enter through the chimney,” said Naruze with a smile.
She used her pen to indicate 4 points on the bottom of the cauldron and connected those points. Suzu heard something peeling away on the bottom of the pot.
“Ohh,” said Naito and Naruze blushed. But…
“Margot, this spell isn’t Weiss or Schwarz.”
“No, no. I’d just completely forgotten it since we live in Musashi’s underground area and don’t use a chimney.”
Did that mean they had lived in a house with a chimney before coming here? They would probably tell Suzu if she asked, but checking on such trifling things could be exhausting. So she left those two to check on the cauldron while she handled what the others could not, as well as…
…F-fixing what they do wrong.
“Heh heh heh. Look, Mitotsudaira, look! …Persona-kun.”
“Quit putting the buckets on your head and start stacking them up!”
Should I correct her or make a tsukkomi? wondered Suzu.
At any rate, everyone seemed more excited than before.
…Because they fought…a battle outside?
Wouldn’t they normally settle down after that? Why were they so full of energy?
Because they’re a warrior race? she wondered, but they were all from different nations. Besides she was fairly certain the concept of a warrior race was a fictional one from the manga named Pendragon Ball. Paper editions were hard for her to read, but with the divine transmission versions, she could have the dialogue vocalized and the ether-drawn lines were easy to sense. The boys like Fist of the Northern Court, but I like Torikaebaya Monogatari: Kamakura from the other magazine.
Her preparations were complete. She decided to see how the others were doing and help them out if they needed it.
She found one person who had barely made any progress at all.
Asama came back to her senses when Suzu called her name.
She was near the bath’s entrance.
After the battle outside and the meal at the Blue Thunder, they had come here to wash up and to make some plans. They had taken a bath and drank some strawberry milk. She had had two milks.
But none of it felt real.
Huh? How many calories are in two of them? she wondered. But the real problem was…
The sign frame.
She had been more focused on the sign frame in front of her than on the deck brush in her hands.
It contained the Gagaku Festival registration information.
After receiving the band page, she had double-checked what it said and then closed it countless times, but…
“Heh heh. Have you memorized what it says already?”
She did not need Kimi to point out that she had looked through every word of it.
But it was not the document that mattered. It was what she would write there: band name, genre, instruments, number of members, and member details.
She could not decide all of that on her own, but…
…I can’t help but imagine what I’ll be writing here.
What would she do? Who would she do it with? What would they do it with? What would whoever she did it with think?
Those questions started reminding her of something.
…Naruze’s porn douji-…no, nooooo. It isn’t reminding me of that at alllll.
“Ah, don’t turn away, Hanami!”
Anyway, Suzu had walked up and started helping her.
Yeah, I got too excited and haven’t gotten anything done, she thought with a sigh, but according to Mitotsudaira…
“Tomo, you don’t need to do any work here, so you can go rest in the changing room if you want.”
“I don’t like sitting around when other people are working…”
Meanwhile, she finished her job too. From there, they only had to wash off the floor with water and clap their hands in unison to purify it.
Then Kimi carried the device in from the changing room.
It was a karaoke acoustic device called Accompaniment #3. It had apparently been developed by a bard who wanted a backup band, but by #3, it had grown too large to carry with you on a journey.
…But if I’m going to sing a pop song with different acoustics than Kimi’s Turning Point, what should I sing?
“Hmm,” she groaned until Mitotsudaira spoke at her side.
“Tomo? If you’re going to sing, we’ll sing too. These spaces are for everyone to share. You don’t need to get so tense. Just think of this as nothing out of the ordinary and don’t worry about it.”
“That’s right,” said Adele as she lightly spun her deck brush around. “We’re glad we can help you do something so rare. You’re always helping us out.”
Adele’s words seemed to contradict Mitotsudaira’s, but Asama was thankful they were both being considerate.
And that may have been why she felt herself sigh.
“In other words.” She smiled and raised her right index finger. “I need to take this easy, so I need to work hard at being casual?”
“You’re being far too tense! Really, really tense!!”
Am I? she wondered while crossing her arms. Then she heard a quiet laugh.
It was Suzu. Her shoulders were shaking a little.
“That’s a lot…like you, Asama-san…but also…not like you?”
“Really?” asked Mitotsudaira.
“Hm.” Suzu tilted her head and suddenly answered. “Isn’t it…a lot like…Toori-kun?”
Everyone’s gone silent, thought Mitotsudaira.
Her eyes were on Asama who had frozen in place with her arms crossed.
Mitotsudaira responded to her question by looking at the others, but Kimi was the only one with a look of understanding. And Mitotsudaira was aware her own eyebrows were lowered and her mouth was spread horizontally.
Naito and Naruze were frowning and Adele simply tilted her head and asked a question.
“Do you grope people’s boobs, flip up their skirts, and strip naked, Asama-san?”
“Have you ever seen me do any of that!? Of course I don’t do those things!”
…The difference in lifestyle is just too great…
So Mitotsudaira took a half step forward to argue Asama’s case.
“Listen, everyone. A pervert and a shrine maiden are two different things. Two very different things. So don’t worry. They are opposites.”
“But my foolish brother sometimes crossdresses, works as an Asama Shrine shrine maiden, and causes the boys to fall to their knees.”
“Sorry, Kimi, but that is just a pervert acting like a shrine maiden.”
“Then,” said Naito while still frowning. She placed her index finger on her mouth and looked up at the ceiling in thought. “If they’re opposites, does that make Asama-chi a shrine maiden acting like a pervert?”
“Let’s not turn this into a false dichotomy!!”
Sorry. I was the one that set it up as two opposite extremes.
So Mitotsudaira looked to Suzu hoping to actually help this time.
“U-um, Suzu? Tomo isn’t a pervert, right?”
“Heh heh. And what if that direct question receives a direct response?”
“Calm down,” said Mitotsudaira as she waited for Suzu’s answer.
“Heh heh. Just come out and say it! Oh, but if Asama is a pervert here, that means Suzu also sees my foolish brother as a pervert! Nice! Bring on the perverts!! C’mon! C’moooon!!”
Mitotsudaira was not sure what Kimi was talking about, so she focused on ignoring her. But Suzu nodded toward Kimi and smiled.
“She isn’t…so don’t…worry.”
“Both Asama-san…and Toori-kun…focus on other…people.”
Suzu smiled at Asama.
“Asama-san…has trouble…thinking about…herself.”
Everyone’s gone silent, thought Asama.
But Kimi circled behind Suzu.
Kimi embraced Suzu from behind, touched various parts of her body, and rubbed her cheek against her with a thin smile. And each time her hands moved to massage Suzu’s body…
“Ah, hyah, wh-what?”
The girl sounded confused, but Asama knew that was one way Kimi expressed her affection.
…She just wants to touch and feel the things she loves…
It was different from “skinship”.
She wanted to confirm that what she loved really was there and she wanted to find out just what it was, so she would embrace it and touch it with her entire body.
But, thought Asama.
Her mind turned toward her being like Toori.
…Is that true?
She might indeed focus on others as part of her shrine maiden job. After all, shrine maidens had originally served and focused on their god. She had learned that way of thinking and it had permeated her being. But…
“Tomo,” said Mitotsudaira. “Focusing on others and doing things for others are not the same thing. My king would never choose the latter. Because he does not want to be a burden on others. So…”
Asama kind of understood what she meant.
“He’s an entertainer god musician.”
Making others smile was not done for others.
When others smiled, it made him happy too.
He made others smile and they made him smile. That was not all, of course. He was a born entertainer who saw purpose in moving others to emotion.
Most entertainer god musicians were like that.
Asama did not worship an entertainer god, but as the #2 to the Asama Shrine, she had the appropriate knowledge and had seen it for herself.
Why did entertainers enjoy focusing on others?
She understood. Or she thought she did.
She had seen this in “him” and his sister, “he” had done it to her, and she had sensed it there, so what if she placed that feeling on herself?
How did she focus on others?
“Unlike an entertainer, I’m not a pervert.”
“You just completely rejected Kimi-chan’s personality there, didn’t you?”
“And for the sake of argument, how exactly does a pervert focus on others?” asked Adele.
Asama thought on that for a bit and found an answer.
“They would focus on perverted acts that delight the other person and they would enjoy watching the other person’s reaction while they- ahhhhhhhhhhh! I didn’t say anything! I was only giving an answer for the sake of argument! So I’m safe! I’m safe!!”
“Uzy, you don’t have to help Hanami take readings.”
Asama felt like she was causing Hanami a lot of trouble recently. Those siblings had started doing a lot more now that they were 2nd years, but…
…The automaton at the Blue Thunder…
If “he” started going out with “her”…
…That is sure to be a lot of trouble for us…
Asama did not know what kind of person “she” was, but if “she” was anything like in the past, then “he” and “she” would often act as a pair while Asama and Kimi…
“Heh heh. What is it?”
“Well, um,” responded Asama as she thought.
Kimi had always been the “big sister”. She had been “his” and “her” big sister. Asama had been at that trio’s mercy, she had helped out “him” and “her”, she had gotten between them, and she had supported them.
Her focus on others had been built up there. And while it was partially due to her mother’s influence that she worshipped the Sakuya god…
…Sakuya is a mother god, but she has a lot of family and daily life support spells.
So how was it she focused on others?
“When I’m at a place like this, I must enjoy supporting others and supporting the place itself.”
But if that was how she focused on others…
“Does that mean I don’t have to worry about every little thing?”
When doing karaoke, she could help out by registering songs that kept the excitement going, she could agree to sing duets with the others, and she could give some help to anyone unsure if they were going to sing or not.
If she was hesitant to sing, she did not have to force herself.
At that point, Asama recalled the times when she had gone out for karaoke with the others. She had never forced herself to sing and the others had never forced her to do it either.
That had been plenty of fun and the others had not excluded her or “used” her when all she did was help out.
They had let her do what she could as much as she wanted.
…I was really lucky.
She had a place for herself and the others respected that.
Instead of trying to take control of what someone else could do, they all worked together to form a single whole.
“Asama…-san. …Do you…understand?”
Asama finally realized why Suzu had brought up this topic.
That girl was blind, but even if the others helped her out, they did not steal the things she could do.
They only helped out when it was something she wanted to do but could not or that would take an excessive amount of time or effort.
And there were people who would help her.
“He” and “she” had always been that sort of person.
Was Asama also that sort of person to Suzu?
No, she could guess that they were all that sort of person to each other.
But while Asama did enjoy helping out others…
“Do I enjoy having others do it to me?”
“That is a statement well worth recording.”
Asama saw Naruze calmly saving some recorded data while bleeding from the nose.
“Ah. No! I wasn’t talking about that! I really wasn’t!”
“I’m making so much progress on my storyboard.”
“We need to talk about this, Naruze!”
“Calm down.” Kimi slapped Asama on the shoulder. “I also like doing it.”
“We will assist you by doing the things that only we can and we can do the things you think you’ll enjoy. So how about telling us what you want to do? What is it you want to do but don’t think you can? If you want to try it out…”
“Asama, we’ll join you. Because it sounds like fun.”
Mitotsudaira looked to Asama.
…What Tomo wants to do.
Out of habit, she almost interpreted that in a dirty way, but that was not what this was about. After all, Asama was normal…ish. She was relatively normal…as long as you did not compare her to Suzu.
…Ah, I think I’ve touched on something I should have avoided!
Asama simply lowered her gaze a little.
But unlike that morning…
She was not taking this lightly. She had shown plenty of resolve in the morning and it had all gone to waste, but this was not going to waste because she was sending her willpower out directly.
The flush of her cheeks and hesitance of her body were not due to embarrassment.
She had grasped what was inside her, but it was far too large and she did not know how to bring it out.
Would her answer be rejected?
Would her answer be laughed at?
Would her answer get through to them?
And most importantly…
…Will she not regret this thought and what she wants to do?
The 2nd year was close enough to graduation that she had to think about how it would affect their future. Even if Asama had an almost guaranteed position in the future, things were different when a failure could involve others.
So Mitotsudaira spoke.
“Tomo.” She was aware her eyebrows were raised in a smile. “We can do this. At the very least…the enjoyable memories will outweigh any regrets.”
Mitotsudaira has really learned how to express herself, thought Naruze while catching her nosebleed in a bucket.
Before they entered high school but after they had all gathered together, she had been so obedient.
People really did change. Except in Mitotsudaira’s case, she had changed while also returning to a better version of herself.
And so she could say it.
Of course, Naruze thought the details of Mitotsudaira’s past were none of her business, but she also thought they were important to Mitotsudaira herself.
…If it’s none of my business, it’s weird to insist I won’t touch on it.
She had no intention of criticizing Mitotsudaira’s past. Naruze’s view was that it had not harmed them any. So she would not criticize it, but there were times when she would mention that it had happened. For example…
“The flower bed here is a lot nicer than when you threw it at that upperclassman.”
That had caused something of a commotion, but Mitotsudaira had not run away from it. At this point, she would probably just sigh and say, “That did happen, didn’t it?”
But when Naruze looked at the gaze the silver wolf turned toward Asama, she realized it was the same as the one Asama and the others had given the wolf in the past.
…I need to redraw my storyboard.
She had planned to have the story progress by supporting their weaker points, but that was not convincing.
This was why her classmates were so difficult to work with.
“It’s just too hard to rape them.”
“Wh-where did that come from!?” exclaimed Mitotsudaira. “And why were you staring at me when you said it!?”
“Don’t worry about it.” Naruze turned toward Asama. “I agree about making sure you enjoy yourself. Instead of becoming a woman who spends all her time looking back in regret, I want to be a Technohexen who has a lot of time she can fondly look back on. What about you, Asama? If you want to do that, you can’t be looking back all the time. That’s nothing more than the pre-established harmony.”
“Tell us what you would enjoy doing.”
What would she enjoy doing?
“U-um, can I ask something?”
She asked before they could answer.
“If I’m enjoying it, would everyone else enjoy it too?”
“Heh heh. What is it you might enjoy while the other person would find it unpleasant?”
Naruze wrote a 4-letter word starting with “r” on her Magie Figure, but everyone ignored her and Suzu tilted her head. As for Asama…
“What I would enjoy and everyone else would find boring…”
“Stop that, Tomo.”
“You’re thinking too much again.”
Mitotsudaira and Kimi’s warnings sounded kind to her and so she got careless.
A moment later, someone flipped up the bottom of her yukata like it was a skirt and someone dumped a bucket of warm water on her. The sensation of a warm purification and a prank was accompanied by a splashing sound, but…
She felt a draft between her legs.
She was not wearing anything at all below the yukata and the yukata had gone see-through.
“Ohhh,” said Naito and Asama quickly held down the bottom of the yukata.
Honestly, thought Mitotsudaira while blushing. Her thoughts really are too rigid.
A need to view everything as important was Asama’s strong point and weak point.
In a positive light, it made her a devoted girl. In a negative light, it made her a fussy girl.
Mitotsudaira knew nothing she said would fix this, but she could not let Asama wallow in it either. So…
“I did my best to provide the kind of shock therapy I think my king would use.”
“I’d rather you didn’t do your best there.”
Asama held down the front of the yukata and tried to pull the back down below her waist.
Don’t tell me, thought Mitotsudaira.
“Is the wet cloth catching on your butt, so you can’t get it back down?”
“N-no, no! Th-there’s just a trick to it. …Ah, what is that look for, Adele?”
As they watched Asama, she finally released the waist hard point parts to loosen the yukata. Which meant…
“Heh heh heh. Asama, I see you’ve got a butt as nice as your boobs! Ah, what is that look for, Mitotsudaira?”
Everything felt unfair to Mitotsudaira, but this one had started with her. She felt like this was her just deserts in a bad way and she spoke up again.
“Wh-what is it?”
Why is she pulling her hips back so defensively? And this pose has her breasts hang down in a way deserving of a sound effect, which feels unfair yet again.
But she had something to say to Asama.
“Don’t get bogged down in worry. You’re not used to any of this, so if you enjoy it, of course the rest of us will. Besides, aren’t you always helping and supporting us at times like this? You can keep that as your foundation. And if you don’t…”
If she was going to let her worries hold her back when she was normally like that, then…
“I know just what my king would say: This isn’t like you at all.”
…Oh, she might be right…
Asama realized that everyone understood her situation here.
“Asama-chi, you’re too self-conscious. Way too self-conscious.”
Naito smiled with the ends of her eyebrows lowered and waved her hand back and forth.
“But,” she continued. “If you sing and mess up, don’t worry about it. There are times when you think ‘Oh, I messed that up’ in everyday conversation, right? It even happens between Ga-chan and me. …Right?”
“Judge. Margot has such an objective view of shudo that we sometimes can’t see eye-to-…that isn’t what you meant? This isn’t about that? Yes, I can tell even when you don’t say a word, Margot.”
Oh, I know.
“Margot likes to listen to idol songs, but I just don’t see the appeal.”
“That’s a lot different from your first try!!”
“Now, now.” Naruze waved a hand dismissively and then looked at them all in turn. “There are only 7 of us here now, but those little differences still show up all the time. So there’s no point in worrying over them for either party involved. For example…does anyone here like coffee milk?”
Naito, Naruze, Asama, and Kimi raised their hands.
“Yes, yes.” Kimi nodded. “I especially like it black.”
“Then that isn’t coffee milk!”
But Adele, Mitotsudaira, and Suzu all had their own views:
“I prefer tea milk.”
“I like it straight.”
“I-I’ve…recently grown fond of…matcha milk.”
“You like it bitter!” said everyone as they turned to Suzu, but then Adele spoke up.
“Um, aren’t we getting off topic?”
“So we are.” Naruze nodded as everyone turned back her way. “And just when Asama was having an important conversation. You people are terrible.”
“You were the one that got us off topic, weren’t you!? You were, weren’t you!?”
“No, I wasn’t getting us off topic. I was planning to ask you all this: What do you do when you get some coffee milk?”
Suzu ran skillfully along the wet floor and returned almost immediately.
She brought in a basket of coffee milk bottles from the changing room. The heavy glass clanked together as she moved.
“This is your…order from before.”
Everyone accepted a bottle as if to lighten the load for Suzu. As Asama watched, Naito shouted “ohhh!” and Naruze checked the brand name and ingredients label. Kimi was measuring the bottle’s opening with her fingers, but…
…Oh. Is this what Naruze was talking about?
For example, Adele had said she preferred tea milk, but…
“Oh, this is great. It reminds me of the lunches from elementary school.”
“Um, Adele? How long has it been since you had this?”
As Asama accepted a bottle from Suzu too, she realized that Adele and Mitotsudaira had said coffee milk was not their favorite, and yet…
…They don’t look displeased.
Instead, they were clearly enjoying the coffee milk.
…So even if it isn’t #1 for them, they aren’t going to reject it.
She realized it was the same for her. There were a lot of things she liked. In some cases, she liked her #1 choice because it was so valuable, so she more often relied on her #2 choice. And she was not talking about sake there. Surely not.
But in that case…
“There might not be very many things that are actually a nuisance.”
“If you say what you want – heh heh – are you afraid people won’t like the Asama Shrine?”
Now that you mention it, maybe I am, thought Asama as she took a sip from the bottle.
…But there’s not really anything you can do if some people don’t like you.
That was true. There were some people who would shun her even if she did everything right.
And if she could enjoy her #2, #3, and even lower choices…
…I don’t have to force myself to like anything.
So what would she do now?
She brought the bottle to her lips again so her thoughts would not escape her mouth. She took a drink just as Kimi used her fingers to measure the thick bottle opening.
“When I drink these at home, my foolish brother sticks his God Mosaic into it and says, ‘Look, Sis! I’m fishing!’ ”
Asama and Mitotsudaira both spat out their milk.
Mitotsudaira wiped off her mouth and saw Adele giving Kimi a sharp look.
The small vassal spoke in a large voice.
“Stop that, Kimi-san! It makes it hard to drink this! Wait until I’m done drinking for that kind of joke!”
Kimi looked to Adele and gave her a silent smile.
She turned the bottle upside-down to chug her own milk as quickly as she could.
It took only 3 seconds for Kimi to gulp it down. She let out a breath, delicately held the bottle, thoroughly licked off the opening, and made sure to catch every last drop on her tongue.
After all that, she looked back to Adele.
“Heh heh. It’s really good. Aren’t you going to drink yours?”
“Damn you and your adult flavor!!”
“Ga-chan! Ga-chan! You don’t need to start measuring the size! It is pretty thick, but you need to calm down and stop calling it reference material!”
I think we all need to calm down here.
But anyway, thought Mitotsudaira as she saw Asama’s half-full bottle and exchanged a glance with her. Then they both said the same thing.
“If it was Horizon…”
They looked up in surprise. Mitotsudaira looked Asama in the eye and then looked around at the others, but no one else had heard them say that. Suzu was tilting her head while focusing on the movements of Naruze’s hands and Kimi was rubbing Adele’s head.
And so Mitotsudaira spoke to Asama.
“If it was her, she would hit the ‘caught’ bottle with a hammer.”
“She might smash it between her hands instead.”
“Perhaps so,” said Mitotsudaira as she and Asama nodded at each other, but they were probably thinking this because of that automaton at the Blue Thunder.
That’s an issue for later, decided Mitotsudaira. When she had heard that her king was trying to win over another girl that morning, she had thought he might have forgotten his relationship with her and she had grown angry, but now that she had seen who that girl was, most of her worry had faded.
She was not “her” knight. Her master was her king.
If her king did something, her anger might reignite, but she already had her king/knight relationship with him and “she” would not intrude on that.
So she was not worried.
She allowed herself to think back on a time so far in the past that the memories were more nostalgic than enjoyable.
And she realized that her king was not trying to continue or redo those times. He was probably trying to begin something new.
After all, she knew he was someone who chose to face forward. He would not return to the past even if he was still dragging it around. That was why she had chosen to participate in her king’s dream.
This was probably something new, like when she had received her king and begun her new life.
So this was a dividing line for him.
This new beginning was a dividing line from 10 years ago. So…
Mitotsudaira realized something.
…Have we reached a major turning point?
Not just me, but everyone, including my king.
That was probably just what the second year of high school was.
The Apocalypse was the major topic of discussion in the world and people’s environments, situations, and relationships were changing in response to that.
She had to wonder if the movements in response to the changing world were beginning to affect them too.
And if “she” was here…
…Will my king move too?
She did not know when that would happen. He did not bring that side of himself to the surface often and, even if he was watching her, he could be such a mess that it was difficult to keep an eye on him for long.
So for now, thought Mitotsudaira.
Someone here was hoping to change.
This was not like her king who had yet to settle on a goal and it was not like the trends of the world. This person was already the representative of Musashi’s Shinto and she already kept the world moving.
Mitotsudaira herself was 2nd in line to ruling the Far East, so she understood what that was like.
“I too am always hoping to change. So…”
So she spoke her thoughts on the changing world, including the changes to her king.
“Let’s try to enjoy this. …What is it you want to do?”
Asama could tell everyone’s eyes were on her.
She breathed in and spoke clearly.
This was only continuing what she had started that morning, but…
“Will you create a band with me?”
“Okay, time to score today’s date!!”
“Ehhhhhh!? Isn’t this where you’re supposed to give an emotional answer!?”
The idiot sister was not listening. She pulled a drawing board from somewhere and wrote on it with an oil calligraphy pen.
“Okay, your scores were boobs, boobs, boobs, and boob. Oh, that last one is scoring you pretty harshly! I bet that’s just an ass-lover’s passion speaking, but let’s not forget Mitotsudaira flipping up your yukata! Right!? Ding! (Score sound) And it’s in! It’s in! Peh-peh-leh-peh-peh-peh-peh-peh!”
The idiot sister spun around and pointed both index fingers at Asama.
“You scored ‘boobs’ across the board!!”
“Just tell me how the date was.”
“To be blunt, that would be really hard to score. For one thing, weren’t there way too many events?”
That was true enough, but Asama was pretty sure none of those were her responsibility. So…
“Those were what they call force majeure.”
“Oh, fine then.”
Kimi pulled a sign frame from her cleavage and tossed it to Asama and Mitotsudaira.
Eh?” thought Asama as she caught it and saw a series of words.
…What is this?
“While fighting the Hidden Dragons, I started up Turning Point and wrote a song. …It’s incomplete, though.”
“I understand,” said Mitotsudaira. “I don’t really have what it takes to perform music either.”
“Eh? W-wait, you two.”
Could they not do it?
Because they could not complete a song or lacked what it took to perform music? But…
“Was the date a failure?”
Kimi narrowed her eyes and asked her a question instead.
“Was the date fun?”
Asama thought about that. A lot had happened, but she had been surprised by Mitotsudaira’s song and Naito and Naruze’s song. It was the kind of day that she would never want to forget even if she sighed whenever she did remember it.
“Yes. It was fun.”
“Then let’s have even more fun.”
Kimi opened a sign frame identical to the one Asama held.
“This song really is hopelessly incomplete. After all…”
“It needs 3 people to sing it, so it’s incomplete if I’m going to perform it myself.”
“That’s right,” said Mitotsudaira.
Asama saw the silver wolf give her a smile.
“And I don’t have a good instrument on hand. Didn’t I ask you to let me see the instruments at the Asama Shrine? …You have some, don’t you?”
Asama looked to Kimi and Mitotsudaira. She could tell she was staring and she had a feeling all of her emotions were showing on her face, so…
She nodded once, but then…
She nodded a second and third time. And then she fixed her disheveled bangs.
She reached one hand out toward Kimi and the other toward Mitotsudaira.
She took their hands and pulled them in close.
“I forgot to do this during the date.”
She wrapped her arms around theirs.
Mitotsudaira realized Kimi was looking her way.
And then Kimi grabbed her empty arm.
She held it back.
Now the three of them formed a small scrum.
They pressed their foreheads together and Kimi spoke first.
“Heh heh. We may have been born on different days, but we discussed my foolish brother’s dick on the same day!!”
“How can you talk about that while drinking milk, Kimi-san!?”
Those outside the scrum were enjoyably noisy.
Musashi’s shrine maiden relaxed her body and laughed. After the first laugh, she could not stop and her shoulders shook.
“Ah ha ha…”
“What is it, Asama? What a weird girl.”
“Yeah,” Asama nodded. She nodded again and again and something fell from the eyes partially hidden by her bangs.
Let’s just say that’s sweat or steam from the bath, decided Mitotsudaira. Either way it was not hers.
But Mitotsudaira understood.
She had been the same.
She had once tried to change and failed. She had gone in a bad direction and lost sight of what the right direction even was.
Asama had to be the same.
Her future was already decided and she had a role for herself, so there was no point in her changing. In fact, change would be dangerous in her position.
But wasn’t possibility a good thing for them?
…No, it isn’t just that.
No one could deny an individual of their possibilities. Unless that person threw them out themselves.
Mitotsudaira had nearly thrown hers out because she thought she would never have an opportunity for that again.
Asama had never even considered hers because they seemed unnecessary for her.
Mitotsudaira had had a king who had not let her throw hers out and had helped her hold onto them.
It was probably the same for Asama. So…
She felt they had just accepted their friend’s possibilities.
Just like her king had once done for her.
Since she could do this, she must be looking in the same direction as her king. So…
“We’re going to have a lot of fun.”
“We need to practice for about a week to reach for this new thing. We need to do our best while we work together and listen to everyone’s assessment of us.”
Asama nodded and looked up. Even as another girl, Mitotsudaira thought her damp eyes were attractive. And combined with the somewhat flushed cheeks and smile…
“Heh heh. What’s this? You look like you just became an adult.”
“No, that’s not what I-…”
But Asama did not stop smiling and she said something else instead.
She did not bow. Her smile simply grew.
“Thank you for everything you’ve done and for everything I’m sure you’ll do in the future.”
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