Soushi taps his foot lightly, looking out at the garden in front of him. This is the garden he practices in with his band. Maten Rocket’s garden. It makes him happy, but he's still a little impatient.
Soushi checks his watch. “She should be here any minute now…” he mumbles. But instead of worrying about his guest’s late arrival, he chooses to watch a hummingbird dart around a patch of flowers to the left.
The garden is a really wonderful place. Soushi likes being here even when Maten Rocket isn't practicing. From his chair here, he can see many roses, gardenias, petunias, and any other flower you can ever imagine.
A hundred feet away is the edge of the forest. Soushi knows the house is behind him, he doesn't even need to turn around to picture the marble pillars and arches that make up his family's mansion.
Soushi remembers that time Zen and Junnosuke wanted to play in the forest. They absolutely begged to go, while Aki nearly cried of fear. Thinking of his friends makes him content, and he almost dozes off.
Footsteps from behind wake Soushi from his trance.
“Soushi-nii… Hehe, my favourite little cousin…” a familiar voice speaks.
“Hello, Kaoru-san,” he greets her. “Having fun?” He watches his cousin walk past his chair and turn.
Kaoru, now in front of him, nods. “Of course! This marvelous palace in which you live has so many beautiful flowers!”
“Flowers? Usually you talk about how pretty the maids are,” he teases.
“Yes, usually. But this is not a usual circumstance, Soushi-nii.”
Soushi looks inquiringly at her.
“The maids that dot your halls… Beautiful though they are, my feelings for them are fleeting! I have fallen in love with a different girl, my dear cousin!”
“Interesting,” Soushi says, picking up his teacup. “Go on.”
“Ah… Let me tell you about her… The girl of my dreams, Matsubara Kanon!” Kaoru begins to ramble about all the wonderful things about this girl. Like her pretty face, her cute little nose, her smile. How she's so shy yet protective. The way she stares into space when she's thinking hard about something. There was a lot for Kaoru to say.
Kaoru is silly, but she seems so happy talking about her crush. She finally ends with, “What do you think about Kanon-chan?”
“She must make you really happy,” Soushi says. “Do you think you'll have a chance of winning her heart?”
“Well, it's like…” Kaoru trails off.
“We are who we pretend to be, so we must think carefully about what to pretend to be,” Kaoru says dramatically. “Yet another quote of gold from the only man worth my time, the great bard himself!”
Soushi takes a sip of his tea, making a mental note that Kaoru doesn't know the difference between Shakespeare and Vonnegut. He'll have to buy her some of each’s books later. “So what you're saying is basically ‘fake it till you make it’?” he says, setting the cup down gently.
“Yes… Of course… The illusion I cast will be what allures my dear Kanon-chan.”
“And soon that illusion will be who you are.”
Kaoru nods. “If I am not already my own illusion, that is.”
“Well, either way, I think you have a pretty good chance of getting your feelings across to her,” Soushi says. “May I see a picture of her? You've said so much and I don't even know what she looks like!”
Kaoru grins. “Of course, my favourite cousin.” She takes her phone out of her pocket and fiddles with it. “Here!”
Soushi takes the phone and looks at the image.
“She looks so timid. Are you sure she's a good match for your bold personality?” The question was less for his own sake and more for Kaoru’s. Soushi knows about his cousin’s tendency to play with girls’ hearts and not think about whether she really likes them.
Kaoru spreads her arms and grins. “Of course I'm sure. As the great bard once said, ‘A fool thinks himself wise, and a wise man thinks himself a fool.’”
“Do you know what he means by that?” Soushi asks, almost teasingly.
“He means that one must not judge on first impressions. Ahh, how fleeting…”
Soushi sighs and shakes his head. His cousin is so silly. “I guess you're kinda right.”
“Kanon-chan is a perfect example of wrong first impressions. Her personality is meek and quiet, but she dedicates herself to our band! She's very determined to help Kokoron on her quest to make the world smile!”
“Hello Happy World is all about making people happy… I guess that's Maten Rocket’s goal as well,” Soushi muses. He hands the cell phone back to Kaoru, who looks longingly at the picture of Kanon for a second before putting it away.
“What about you? What do you think the bard means?”
Soushi is taken by surprise for a second. Kaoru almost never asks others for input. “I think it means if you judge yourself to be wise, then you are truly not wise at all.”
“I see what you mean. You are a clever one, Soushi-nii,” Kaoru replies.
“But if you think I'm clever, wouldn't that make me not clever?”
Kaoru shakes her head. “No. Because you are not the one saying you're something you aren't. From where I am, I can see the unbridled truth.”
Soushi chuckles. “I guess you really are spot on, Kaoru-san. Being in that band has helped you tremendously.”
Kaoru grins. “Of course it has,” she says. “Without the others, I felt as though I was a foolish wit. But now I am a witty fool! It's much better to be one of those.”
“I'm glad. You seem much more content with yourself.”
“I am!” Kaoru agrees. “Hello Happy World makes me a better person.”
“It's the same for me and Maten Rocket.”
“Hey Soushi-nii, guess what?” Kaoru asks.
“What?” Soushi replies.
“Three! Two! One! Zero! Ignition!!!”
Soushi giggles. “Hm, that's familiar…”
Kaoru laughs too. “Now you try!”
“Happy! Lucky! Smile! Hooray!!!” Soushi says.
The words make him feel positive. He wonders if Kaoru feels the same thing from saying Maten Rocket’s catchphrase.