“Huh?” Youko said.
After the parade and the show ended, and the flow of people was beginning to disperse, a voice called out to the older Senba out of the blue, and the sound of a camera shutter resounded.
When Youko turned around, a fox-eared girl with that usual smile of hers was holding her foster in camera mode.
“Ah, Myuhi! Don’t just take pictures of me like that, sheesh!”
“Ahaha, come on, it’s fine, right? You were so cute with how taken you were by the parade. Look,” Myuhi said.
Myuhi showed Youko the screen of her foster to reveal several pictures lined up; a collection of pictures that were intentionally taken just to show the various expressions on
There were pictures of her excited by parade, pictures of her watching the songstress with twinkling eyes, and pictures of her all heated up as she watched the battle of the cats.
Youko panicked from embarrassment and urged Myuhi to erase them, but as expected from her roommate, Myuhi knew exactly how to handle her, and she somehow managed to convince her to keep them under the condition she’d send her the pictures later.
But then again, that might have just been Youko realizing that Myuhi would never change her mind.
“Ruona-san, if you have some with me in them, can you send me those too?” Yousuke said.
“Sure thing! I have pictures of Guu-chan too, want them?” Myuhi said.
“No thanks, but since when were you two friendly enough to be taking pictures?” Yousuke said.
“Hmm, it was like that before I knew it. I’ve gotten hooked on photography lately because there’s this person that just refuses to let me sneak a shot. That one’s really a difficult opponent, I tell you,” Myuhi said, and the three of them became speechless.
“…Myuhi, I sure hope you’re not saying that while remembering that I’m a Public Morals Officer,” Youko said.
“You just don’t get it, Yoppi! How humiliating it feels to peep at someone and try to get a shot only to be noticed and be given a peace sign every single time! Mark my words, I’ll win next time!” Myuhi said with her ears and tail standing on end, but everyone else was just stupefied.
Apparently, Myuhi didn’t have any reservations about peeping. No one else here shared her opinion on that matter, but when they considered her personality, they had no choice but to just
In the end, Youko let her off with a warning, saying she’ll severely punish her if someone were to complain.
“More importantly, where did Tomotomo go? Weren’t you together until just awhile ago?” Myuhi said.
“Ah, she went to the toilet. There’s a lot of people and the parade was in its last stages already, so she had us head to the exit ahead of her instead of having us wait for her,” Ryou said.
But Myuhi didn’t seem to mind that and just asked where Tomoe was. Ryou panicked because of that and hurriedly gave the excuse he’d prepared beforehand, leading Myuhi to narrow her eyes.
However, since there was no one else who could notice that, she didn’t pursue the matter any further.
“So, what will you be doing? Wanna come with us?” Youko said.
“Yeah, I guess we could wait together outside,” Myuhi said.
Ryou heaved a breath of relief when Myuhi obediently accepted their offer and stayed with them.
The way he saw it, Myuhi was another difficult rival for Tomoe.
She had a lovely appearance and was always close by, so she gave the impression she was easy to get along with.
Ryou’s childhood friend gave chase as soon as they figured out the true identity of the evil cat, so it would be problematic now if she were to get in her way.
Unfortunately, Ryou failed to consider the person inside Nyani-nya.
“Hmm, hey, Little Senba, what’s the matter?”
In his momentary relief, he noticed Yousuke looking around him as though in search of someone.
“Huh, ah, it’s nothing… I just… Happen to know someone… Who’s a fan of Warunyaa. I don’t see him anywhere, but I was thinking how nice it would be if he saw Warunyaa earlier.”
When Ryou pointed that out, Yousuke quickly explained in a panicked manner just like he did earlier, but when he got to the latter parts, he looked like he was looking at somewhere far away, giving the impression that he truly yearned for that to be true.
“Hey, Yousuke! Shinguuji! Hurry up or we’ll leave you behind!”
“Aren’t you two hurrying too much!?”
“Now, now, calm down.”
Youko hurried them on, and that annoyed Ryou, so Yousuke had to calm him down while they caught up with the two girls.
Ryou the grumbler, Youko the fire, and Yousuke the mediator.
Myuhi watched those three with a smile bigger than usual, then thought of something and asked.
“So, Youko, did the two of you have fun today?”
“Huh?” Youko said.
“What?” Yousuke said.
“And you’re just going to ignore me… Whatever, it’s not like I actually care or anything,” Ryou said.
Myuhi didn’t know either why she directed that question only at the two of them.
Perhaps, it was because of that something that the public couldn’t be privy to and the person that solved it being concerned about them that she hoped that they enjoyed the show.
It was impossible for them to come up with an answer that she herself didn’t know, but the twins glanced at each other, then turned to her with the same smile.
“Of course!” Youko said.
“You bet!” Yousuke said.
“I’ll be having some of that, thank you!” Myuhi said as she reflexively took a picture of them, but then suddenly froze. “…Don’t tell me?”
It was rare for her to make such a surprised face, so the people around her looked at her suspiciously.
“Myuhi, is something the matter?”
“…Huh? Oh, it’s nothing! More importantly, we better hurry or we’ll be scolded again!” Myuhi said.
“Ah, hey, don’t push!” Youko said.
But when they saw her push Youko from behind and hurry her on, they figured nothing was amiss, not realizing that the expression she wore as she pushed Youko from behind was pregnant with pain.
That’s why they had no way of realizing that her gaze was turned to the direction of a goddess’ castle, where a certain boy was.
“…I see, so that’s why that child was so…”
She had taken so many pictures of him that she couldn’t help but overlap his smile with the twins’.
Even though the construct of their faces weren’t similar, the atmosphere and shape of their smile was.
A 6 year gap, a boy that was an older brother, and the familial circumstances she’s heard from the twins.
Their seemingly complicated relationship, the way they treated the boy differently, and the strange way the boy went so far as to even threaten Nameless just to keep them away.
Above all, the impetus that led Masquerade to be seen in public for the first time.
The moment all of that connected, Myuhi finally understood what had happened, and she found it too difficult to smile.
Because when she thought of everything the boy had to suffer, her heart just ached too much.
What was it that he lost upon returning, and yet insists on protecting?
Myuhi had promised to leave everything to her tonight, but she just wanted nothing more right now than to meet that boy.
Though he could easily contend against the world, she knew that he was timid and clumsy when it came to certain matters.
That’s why she wanted to give him a big hug, and if that weren’t possible, then at the very least she wanted to tell him those words, ‘well done’.
But she knew that she didn’t have the right to do that. After all, she was the same kind of person as those terrorists that sought to ruin this day today.
That’s why she decided to just leave that role to
Instead her role would be to send him an untitled email, on which would be attached the smile of the twins, and a message under it that read…
──The smiles you protected.