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The girl looks rather young—even for a human. If you could guess, she’d be no older than her early twenties at the latest, her slender frame and modest attire not contributing to her puerility. Though, her black hair is well-braided and tucked to her right side, and she seems like she enjoys looking down at the floor whenever anybody makes eye contact, so perhaps she’s just shy of being an adult.
You’d love to continue the awkward silence and stare at her, but you can’t help and laugh at her words. “Hah! Friends. Sure. We’re something like that.”
“Excuse you,” Chen says with a hmph. “Daiki and I are friends. I bet you can’t say the same.”
For a moment, Daiki’s taken aback, looking especially vulnerable with her widened eyes. Then, with a warm smile, she shakes her head. “They… All of them are friends.”
What an adorable specimen. “Well, I’ll be. Aren’t you just the cutest thing around!”
Tewi must be thinking the same thing as she puts a hand on her cheek, grinning all the while. “Just a doll, ain’t she?”
“Yeah, well, I’m high priority on Daiki’s list of friends,” Chen huffs. “He,” she says, pointing at you, “is more on the level of an acquaintance.”
You adopt a sorrowful gaze and put a hand to your forehead. “Look at you, getting all high and mighty just because you finally have a friend now. And to think she’d be so eager to betray her ‘team’ and badmouth us like that.”
“Puts a tear in my eye,” says Tewi, feigning a wistful look. “She threw us away like garbage just because we don’t have the right type of ears on our heads.”
“Wait? No, no.” Chen vehemently shakes her head. “I would never—”
“No, it’s okay. You don’t have to say it,” you continue. “I know that, since you’ve tasted real friendship, we’re just not good enough anymore. You can’t hang out with the likes of us.”
“Is that true?” asks Daiki, a concerned look on her face.
Chen pulls off the mob cap off her head to ruffle her hair. “No, um, I—” She glares in your direction. “Stop it! You’re making me look bad!”
“You’re right, my apologies. Turning your back on your so-called ‘team’ doesn’t make you look too awful. Sometimes, that’s just the way life goes—so what if you’re a backstabber? No big deal, right?”
With that, Chen’s defeated. She takes a seat and slumps back on her chair. “Stop. Please. Just… say no more. I’m sorry.”
A soft giggle echoes throughout the home. And, partly because of the acoustics of the tiny room and partly because all the youkai in the room have discernibly strong hearing, all heads turn back to the human girl, who was silent prior to her outburst.
Yoru covers her mouth and blushes again, but what follows isn’t another excruciating silence, thankfully. “Sorry. That was rude of me. But I thought the scene was lovely—all of you, I mean. I know now that you must all be good friends.”
“You can think what you like of us. As it happens, we’re all just acquaintances by circumstance.” You lower your gaze to the human. “And I’m sure you and your family can vividly recall the events that led us all here.”
“Ah, yes.” Immediately, her attention goes back to the floor as she cradles her arms close to her chest. “I’m aware.”
“Good. Remember them clearly—remember that a couple of no-good cats did all they could to save you and your family.” You turn your head back towards the entrance, your wolfish ears flicking in that direction. “You’ll be needing that kind of sentiment soon.”
Yoru, still oblivious to what’s to come, says, “What do you mean?”
The door’s hastily opened with Noboru running straight inside. A cold sweat lines his brow—so he either has bad news or has suddenly discovered a newfound appreciation of exercise.
“The… the village council is coming,” he pants out.
“The village council is… what!?” Yoru shouts. “I can imagine why, but… why?”
Noboru frantically paces around the living space. “They want to see Daiki for themselves.”
“Okay?” You shrug. “Then what’s the problem?”
“The problem? This—” He motions to all the youkai. “—is the problem. How are we going to explain that we have a home full of… y’know.”
“There isn’t much to explain. All of us here were involved with the incident.”
“Oh,” he says, starting to pace around the living room table. “Yes, right.”
“Stop panicking and sit still, boy. You’re making me all antsy-like with the way you’re skipping around the room.”
“But—but,” he sputters, “but what if the elders—”
“Shut up and breathe, you sissy.”
Noboru, finally listening to you, does so with a deep, conscious inhale. Then, as he closes his eyes and kneads his eyebrows, he breathes out.
“Better?” you say.
“A little, I suppose.”
“Good—now don’t start hyperventilating again because the village circus is almost already here.”
“And how do you know that?”
He gives you a surprisingly valid response, but you’ve tempered your expectations—anything’s better than the boy heaving and circling the room like a mosquito. So, with that, you grace him with a fair response of your own. Wiggling your fingers in the air, you say, “Magic.”
You make your way outside, with everyone but Noboru’s mother following close behind. Honestly, you would have loved to kick your legs up on the table while Noboru and the other humans squabbled, but there was no space for everybody to fit inside.
There’s some amusement to be found in the scene unfolding—Noboru made an entire council of old men and one conspicuously young woman walk all the way to the edge of the village so that they could have a pleasant chat.
Now, how are you gonna deal with this mess?
[ ] You don’t trust Noboru to do this right. You’re pulling out the old “I’m a god so listen to me, or whatcha gon’ do ‘bout it” card.
[ ] You’ll see how this goes. Maybe step in if you feel like it.
[ ] It’s Noboru’s bed, so now he must lie in it.