“In fact, Fushimi-san, you’re adorable!” Sumizome reassured, smiling in amusement. Inari really was so cute, she couldn’t help but smile.
Inari’s face set in determination after the compliment, and with an enthusiastic exclamation of “see ya!” she dashed off to the boy of her dreams, leaving Sumizome alone with the others. Sumizome waved as she went and she silently wished her friend the best of luck. Inari truly deserved to have love and happiness.
“Now all we can do is pray,” Keiko announced suddenly. She was standing by the booth, pellet gun in hand. As she bent over and squinted her eyes to aim Sumizome approached from behind.
“What are you going for?” Maru asked.
Keiko’s eye locked onto her desired target. “That watch,” she said. “The batteries in mine need replacing.”
Sumizome noticed a cute stuffed bunny beside the watch, and her face lifted in surprise for a moment. She thought about how cute it was and wished that she could have it, and then Keiko accidentally won it instead of the watch after she fired a shot. Sumizome’s heart raced with excitement. Was this fate? Would Keiko possibly even give it to her?
“Congratulations! You’ve won yourself a bunny!” a man exclaimed and handed the prize over to her.
Keiko took it by the ear with an unimpressed expression. “Who needs a bunny?” she asked in distaste.
Sumizome’s heart continued to race. “Actually, I—”
“Eh, whatever. I guess I could give it to Inari,” Keiko said, interrupting Sumizome’s sentence. She then walked off with Maru following, and she failed to see the disappointed look on their new friend’s face.
Sumizome stood a moment and stared at Keiko’s back. She was a little crushed inside. Keiko really did only think about Inari, didn’t she? With a sad sigh Sumizome hurried to catch up to them, and she couldn’t help but glance at the bunny as they walked, wishing that Keiko had wanted to give it to her instead.
After checking out many more booths and trying out different kind of foods, the group tired themselves out sooner than expected. It was getting late as well, and Inari had yet to re-join them. Sumizome was slightly worried but she hoped that her friend was with Tanbabashi, enjoying herself with the one she loved.
Sumizome sighed. If only she could enjoy herself with the one she loved. Sure, they had just met that day, but Sumizome was absolutely sure that Keiko was her knight. She was charming and strong, determined and protective; everything Sumizome desired in someone, Keiko had. It didn’t help that she was very attractive too. Sumizome caught herself staring longer than what was necessary more than once. Luckily Keiko never noticed, but a part of Sumizome wished that she wasn’t so oblivious.
If Inari felt this way about her, would she have noticed?
“Gah, I’m too tired to move,” Keiko complained as she gave up on walking and slunk down to sit on the stairs. Sumizome and Maru paused beside her and Maru shook her head.
“Come on, Keiko-chan, we need to find Inari before we leave.”
Keiko slumped against a tree beside her and grunted unhappily. “You can find her,” she said, and gripped the bunny tighter in her fist. She looked like she was ready to toss the thing over her shoulder. “I’ll wait here. Sumizome-san can go with you.”
Sumizome visibly startled at having her name fall from Keiko’s lips. A slight blush dusted her cheeks at how wonderful it sounded and she startled again when both Keiko and Maru looked at her. “Um...”
Maru sighed dramatically. “Fine, but I can look for her myself.” Maru immediately dismissed Sumizome and then turned and hurried off in a huff.
Sumizome felt slightly hurt but her elation at being able to be alone with Keiko masked it.
“I wonder what’s up with Maru,” Keiko commented while she stared off after her friend. She shrugged, and then glanced down at the stuffed doll in her hand. “Gosh, I’m tired of holding this thing. We should find Inari soon so that I can get rid of it.”
It was obvious that Keiko was mostly talking to herself, so Sumizome shifted nervously and glanced down at her feet. She shyly grabbed onto the fabric over her legs and tried not to tremble.
Keiko seemed to remember that Sumizome was with her and she turned to look up at her. “Hm?”
“Can… can I sit beside you?”
“Sure.” Keiko waved her hand and then relaxed further against the tree. “I hate walking so much.”
Even when she complains she’s attractive, Sumizome thought and internally fangirled after she gracefully sat down beside Keiko. She didn’t sit close to her and made sure there was enough space between them.
“Walking can be tiring, I guess…” she agreed softly.
Keiko groaned tiredly. “I want to go home.”
Sumizome just smiled at Keiko. While she groaned and muttered complaints Sumizome watched the side of her face. She watched the way Keiko’s shoulders lifted and dropped as she breathed. She blushed at the sight of Keiko’s exposed neck. She wondered how warm her skin would be or how soft it would be to the touch. Was Keiko’s skin sensitive?
Sumizome blushed even further and swallowed the thickness from her throat. Butterflies fluttered around in her stomach, making it slightly uncomfortable. Her heart also burnt and fluttered.
“Say, Sumizome-san,” Keiko suddenly said, “didn’t you want to get anything here? You didn’t play any of the games or buy anything.”
So she did notice me! Excitement fluttered around in her chest. “No, it’s fine. I didn’t want anything in particular.” She tilted her head and flashed a beautiful smile. Keiko just happened to turn her, and eyes widened slightly.
“You know, you have an amazing smile,” Keiko commented like she had no idea what a sentence like that would do to her heart. “You should smile like that more often.”
Sumizome looked astonished, with her eyes wide and her mouth hanging slightly open. Her face suddenly burnt with an intense blush and she looked away from Keiko’s gorgeous eyes. Those eyes were still looking at her, and it made the butterflies in Sumizome’s stomach flutter even more wildly.
Keiko glanced back at the bunny in her hands, thoughtful. She nibbled on her lip for a moment, and then she thrust the toy at Sumizome and pressed her cheek to her palm, her elbow resting against her knee. She looked even more bored now than she had a moment ago.
Sumizome noticed Keiko’s outstretched hand with surprise and confusion, and when she failed to take the bunny Keiko looked at her again.
“Don’t you want it?” she asked.
“You… you’re giving it to me?”
Keiko pulled the doll back towards her and regarded it seriously. She pulled at the ears and sighed. “Sure, if you want it. Inari has plenty and you didn’t get anything.” She handed it over to the smaller girl again and this time Sumizome took it. “So there, you can have it. I don’t mind.”
Sumizome placed the bunny on her lap, as if touching it would somehow break it or make her wake up as if this was some sort of fantasy within a dream. She stared down at it with wide eyes, her heart beating erratically. When was it going to stop beating so hard?
“Sanjo-san…” Sumizome lifted her head and gave Keiko the most stunning smile she could muster. “Thank you so very much, I’ll treasure it.”
Keiko smiled in response, looking pleased. Sumizome had felt a little down ever since Inari left them, and receiving the bunny immediately cheered her up.
“It was worth it to see that smile,” Keiko said. She laughed loudly at Sumizome’s embarrassed look and stood up. “Come on, Sumizome-san. Let’s find Maru and Inari.” She offered a hand and smiled like a prince when Sumizome took it. She was completely oblivious to the effect she had on her, and she didn’t feel the slight tremble that rocked through Sumizome when their skin touched.
Sumizome’s eyes filled with wonder and she blushed again. Keiko pulled her to her feet and then started to walk with her hands stuffed into her pockets. She slouched slightly, since she was still tired, and Sumizome thought that she was beautiful even when she slouched.
With the doll clutched lovingly to her chest, Sumizome hurried to catch up. When she fell into step beside Keiko she smiled in happiness and hugged the toy. Sure, it was just a bunny, but it meant everything to Sumizome.
It gave her a little hope that maybe one day Keiko would realize her feelings, and just maybe she would feel the same way.