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With You, Always

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Inaba had become Naoto’s home, with the Shirogane residence and her friends there. She still traveled all over the country for her detective work, often finding herself alone in a hotel room. Nevertheless, she wasn’t lonely anymore, even when she was far away from home.

Once again, Naoto had just spent the whole day working on a case in the big city, and found herself in a hotel room, with a small suitcase in tow. She had made it a habit to carry as little as possible, considering how frequently she was on the move. However, there was an exception: the first items she was pulling out of the suitcase. Naoto smiled and placed them on the top of the cabinet next to the bed. They were dolls made of fabric that resembled the members of the Investigation Team.

*****

The text message from Kanji, though a nice surprise, left her wondering what was going on. Even so, there was no way she could say no to Kanji when he asked her if he could talk to her. While Kanji didn’t hide his thoughts and feelings now, he hardly discussed what was on his mind.

She was glad the Tatsumi family lived only a few blocks away, allowing her to see him minutes after responding to his message. “Good evening, Kanji.” Naoto greeted the tall man standing in front of the textile shop.

“Hey.”

“You wanted to speak to me.”

“Yeah.”

“May I ask the nature of-”

Before Naoto could finish the question, Kanji pushed something into her hands. “I made this for you.”

She looked down to see what it was: a group of finger-sized dolls in Yasogami High uniforms. Taking a closer look, she realized that each one looked different: one sported popped collars; another one had headphones around its neck; and so on. The last one was not in a uniform, but in a bear suit she was familiar with.

She still didn’t know what to say when she shifted her gaze back to Kanji.

Kanji raised an eyebrow. “They’re no good, huh?”

Naoto shook her head, eyes wide open. “That’s not what I mean at all.” She raised her hands so that it would be easier for both of them to look at the dolls. “They’re wonderful. Thank you.”

Kanji scratched his head in an attempt to hide the blush forming on his cheeks. “No big deal. Just wanna remind you that we’re all with you, always.”