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The Foxtrot

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Kitsune Saiguu invites both Yae and Ei to visit her a couple of weeks into the summer vacation.

Considering the amount of coursework that they’re slammed with, Yae answers that they’ll come in the last month of the semester when they actually have a break. The heat rises on campus, and they’re walking around in shorts and tank tops, which often tempts Yae to derail their study sessions into something else when she sees Ei in such light clothing.

Ei doesn’t change at all from their first time together. She’s still considerate and very kind, absentmindedly playing with Yae’s fingers or hair as she’s thinking about something or surprising her with a gift Yae doesn’t expect. And she still looks baffled when she does something so ridiculously sweet that Yae decides to let her cranked-up libido respond. Many times.

So, Ei gets laid a lot. Yae can vouch for that.

Not that she gets the implications of it all.

Their break rolls around, and they finally have some breathing room before the next semester starts—a rare few weeks to do whatever they want before the frantic pace of classes starting up again takes up their time. Yae reminds Ei of the promise to visit her aunt. Ei thinks about it for a moment before she nods. Something tight in Yae’s chest loosens, and she lets out a breath she didn’t realize she was holding.

They take a couple of days to lounge around the campus before packing up for a short stay at her aunt’s. Makoto promises Ei to explain the situation to their family, which Yae finds strange. Are the twins expected home right after their studies?

Ei merely shakes her head when pressed, changing the subject to ask what is appropriate to wear to Kitsune Saiguu’s house. Since they’re only staying for two nights, not much is needed, though Yae certainly would not say no to seeing Ei wear less.

Ei rolls her eyes at Yae’s suggestions and says she’ll get Makoto to help instead. So, what if Makoto would not advise the smallest bikini possible while bordering the line of decency? Yae has good ideas too!

Ruffling Yae’s hair, Ei kisses her forehead while a smile spreads itself helplessly across Yae’s face. “I will see you tomorrow. I want your aunt to see me as a proper lady.”

Yae doesn’t know what she means, but Ei appeases her with a series of kisses so Yae lets her go. The next morning, Yae drives Ei back to her hometown along a stretch of highway near the coast. Using Ei’s car, of course.

Ei is looking out the passenger-side window, marvelling at the glitter of the sun upon the water while her fingers are intertwined with Yae’s, who drives with one hand. A little dangerous, perhaps, but very few cars are on the road at this hour so Yae will take the risk for the chance to hold Ei’s hand.

They make their way into a quiet place not too far from Inazuma City where the streets are small, the atmosphere is peaceful, and the people ambling about on happy walks with their families. Ei smiles at all of this, which relieves some of the nervousness building in Yae. This is the first time she’s ever…

She’ll tell Ei soon enough.

They arrive at a home along a quiet stretch of residential buildings in the suburbs. Saiguu’s place looks the same as any other on the block—wooden porch in front packed with comfy couches, benches, and stands; white picket fence that needs a bit of a touch-up, two-storey house with a balcony on the top floor. It looks so extraordinarily ordinary that Yae can see Ei staring up in confusion before alternating between examining it and glancing at Yae.

“Expecting something else?” Yae asks lightly, hand on the front gate, about to let herself in.

“I thought it would be more eccentric. You are quite a character, Miko.”


Yae turns around, about to retort when her aunt’s voice calls to them across the lawn. “You bastards, my sign says no solicitors—“

A woman with short hair the colour of snow rushes out, fist upraised and ready to be shaken. Her scowl drops when she sees Ei standing at the gate. She stares for a moment before she drifts towards her, coy smile unfurling across her face. “Hi, are you here to ask if I have accepted the kingdom of Barbatos? Here’s my pen. I’ll totally sign up if you walk me through it.”

Yae feels a vein throb at her temple, and it’s only been less than five minutes since she came back. She bristles at how her relative slides up to Ei. “Dear Aunt Saiguu, remember me? Your lovely niece—“

Saiguu waves her away, eyes on Ei. “Begone, thot.”

“I’m the thot?” Yae’s about to snarl when she feels Ei squeeze her hand, concerned gaze on her, and she instantly calms down. She takes a breath before starting again. “Aunt Saiguu, we’re dating. This is the someone I told you about, remember?”

“Dating, are you?” Saiguu peers upwards at Ei. “Maybe you could do better. Do you like older women, sweetheart?”

Ei frowns while Yae chokes on her rage. “Yes? I do have female friends who are—”

“Mmm…that’s not quite what I mean.” Saiguu winks. “But I’d be happy to teach you.” She circles around Ei, examining her from all angles and seeming to appreciate what she sees.

Coming to a stop, Kitsune Saiguu lifts Ei’s chin with her index finger and examines her with a sly smile. “What a pretty one. Cutie, I could show you what a night with a real woman is like.”

Ei looks confused. “Why? Is Miko a robot?”

Saiguu pauses, squinting. “Hmm…I’m going to guess that she had quite a challenge with you.” She thinks for a moment before snapping her fingers. “I know. You should meet my friend Ying’er. She’d love you. Or rather I’d love to watch her try you.”

Yae grabs Ei’s wrist rather possessively, and she feels instant regret when Saiguu’s eyebrow quirks at the gesture. “Could we come in, dear aunt? We’ve driven a long way to see you,” she says through gritted teeth.

She practically forces her way into the house with Ei in tow until Saiguu gets a hold of herself and ushers them into the living room. A few minutes later, she brews some tea and grabs some biscuits.

Her aunt waves her hand. “Sorry about earlier. I have this thing where I get real stupid when I’m around a pretty lady at first. Runs in the family.”

Ei nods sagely. “I see.” She looks confused and pained when Yae kicks her leg under the table. “I mean, I haven’t noticed anything but your gracious welcome.” She rubs her calf while Yae sighs and resists slapping her own face with a hand in exasperation. “Thank you for hosting us for the weekend.”

“Okay, let’s try introductions again.” Yae gestures towards Ei. “This is my—“ She gives Saiguu a look, “— girlfriend. We’ve been dating since the spring.”

“A pleasure to meet you. I am Raiden Ei, but I prefer going by my first name.”

Saiguu nearly chokes on her drink. “Hold on, are you part of the Raiden clan?”

“Ah, yes.” Ei looks uncomfortable. “You know us.”

“Know you? Why, I’m something of a spiritual advisor to your head honchos—“

Yae snorts her tea. Coughing, she reaches for a napkin while covering her mouth. “You? Spiritual?”

“What? Like you’re any better? Last I heard, you said your major was in marketing, but with the way you were going, it seemed like you were determined to do a practicum in clinical sexology,” Saiguu huffs. “Anyway, back to what I was saying, Miss Raiden, it is a pleasure to formally meet you. I have been a long and loyal employee of your parents for years.”

Ei shakes her head. “Ei is just fine.”

Yae frowns. She glances at Ei. “Is your company really that big?”

Saiguu gives her a look. “Kid, you don’t even know what family your girl is from?”

Yae gives Ei a sidelong glance before shrugging. “It wasn’t relevant when we first met.” She turns away, not missing the slightly relieved and guilty look on Ei’s face. “Come now, dear aunt. Is that all you wanted to ask me?“

Saiguu begrudgingly asks about Yae’s academic performance before rushing in to find out more about whom she’s met and the mischief she’s caused in her club activities. Her aunt’s eyes glaze over when Ei relays all of the technical courses she’s taken as well as the specific details of how her battle bot activities work. At some point, Yae fakes a yawn and invites Ei to follow her into the kitchen to help make more tea so Saiguu could have a merciful reprieve. “I think talking about your other interests may be easier for my aunt to follow.”

“Maybe. Perhaps, I should ask about her instead.” Ei glances at the open doorway leading into the living room. “By the way, why does your aunt keep calling me ‘Cutie’?”

“Because she’s wildly inappropriate.” Yae grits her teeth.

“Oh. I guess it just runs in the family.”

Before Yae could comment, Saiguu pops her head into the kitchen. “Good, you two aren’t banging on the counters yet. I’m heading to the store. You kids need anything?”

Yae wonders how long of a grocery list she needs to give Saiguu in order to have enough time to fuck Ei’s brains out on her aunt’s precious kitchen counters. Ei smiles sweetly instead and asks for a bag of cookies while Yae begrudgingly asks for ingredients to make a tofu dish.

Saiguu leaves shortly after, and Ei is examining the kitchen with an almost child-like fascination. Her fingers run over the smooth otogi surface of the island counter, brushing over the various wooden utensils hanging from the racks on the wall.

Yae feels strangely exposed, nervousness roiling in her stomach. She hugs it behind a massive red mug she finds in the cabinet—a gift she had given to Saiguu when Yae was ten and one that Saiguu had used often, judging by the faded white letters on its front. “So…” Yae keeps her voice deliberately casual. “What do you think so far?”

“It’s a lovely place. You can tell your aunt purposely cultivated a natural look to her place with all the plants and wooden furniture about.” Ei glances over and blinks. “Oh, but that’s not what you’re asking.”

“No, that’s good to know as well.” Yae places her mug on the counter, drawing a deep breath to settle herself, and Ei takes her hand, which immediately calms her. “What do you think of my aunt?”

“She’s quite the character. I like her though.”

Yae’s shoulders relax. “Good. I’m glad to hear that. And the town?”

“I haven’t seen too much of it yet, but it looks quaint.” Ei gazes at her. “But why does my presence here make you so nervous?”

“It’s not you. It’s just—-” Yae sighs, “I grew up here. It’s strange to come back.”

“I didn’t know that.” Ei squeezes her fingers, and Yae can’t help the smile that spreads across her face. “Would you like to tell me about it?”

So, Yae shares some select stories—the time where their Liyuen neighbours were aghast at finding their flowers missing from their yards and Yae happened to find Saiguu bustling around the kitchen with fresh Silk Flowers in a blue vase. The time Saiguu volunteered to chaperon her junior prom and ended up getting banned from ever doing that again by the local PTA. The river running in the woods where Saiguu and her used to go fishing when Yae was five, and both of them would get eaten alive by mosquitoes. The bushes further back where they used to grab baskets of berries to make jam that would last the whole winter that they’d often gift to their neighbours on holidays.

Ei smiles throughout the whole thing. “That’s the most I’ve heard you speak about your past. You two are really fond of each other.” A slight furrow comes between her brows. “But you two don’t treat each other like other aunts and nieces I’ve seen.”

“Ah, that.” Yae glances down at her mug before looking back up. “I should tell you that Aunt Saiguu is technically—”

“I’m back!” Saiguu bursts into the kitchen, and Yae leaps away from Ei, glaring. “What? Did you forget that the grocery store is just around the corner?”

Evidently, she did. “Welcome back, dear aunt.”

Saiguu rolls her eyes. “Say, Cutie. I thought of a better idea. Wanna make those cookies fresh from scratch? I got the stuff right here.” She pulls out a recipe card from one of her many drawers. “And here’s the secret recipe here. Just follow this, and I’ll be right back. Gonna talk to my niece about something.”

She marches Yae out to the living room again, near the fireplace and out of Ei’s hearing. Seating them in the comfortable leather chairs, Saiguu studies Yae’s expression that she tries to keep neutral. “Spill. Who is this girl? How did you bag her? And why do you look like such a puppy dog whenever she’s around?”

“I do not—” Yae rubs her temples. “I told you that we were dating.”

Saiguu sits back, gesturing for Yae to go on. “Tell me the whole story. Your girl can handle the cooking.”

They find out shortly that Ei cannot.

The fire alarm goes off, and they burst into the kitchen with Saiguu swinging a fire extinguisher. “Dammit, I haven’t had a fire here since Yae’s 17th birthday!”

They stop at the sight of the oven door open, black smoke trailing out while Ei kneels close by with a tray full of what should have been edible.

Ei glances up, looking destroyed. Over cookies. “I’m so sorry. I—“

Yae bustles forth and grabs the tray with oven kits before dumping the smoking and blackened ruins into the trash. “We can start over. No point in crying over burnt treats.”

Ei nods before she sighs. “I just thought I could do better this time.”

“It’s all right to ask for help.” Yae checks the ingredients and sees that they have enough to make another round. “I’ll assist this time.”

Saiguu carefully watches the scene, and Yae ignores her as she guides Ei back to the counter to restart the batch. She swats Ei’s hand away when the latter tries to add salt instead of sugar and turns down the oven temperature when Ei sets it too high. “As much as I enjoy molten desserts as the next person, I don’t think that’s what you’re aiming for.”

“I’m not. Thank you.” Ei sighs, crossing her arms. “This isn’t too bad though. The last time I tried to make something myself, there ended up being an electrical outage and a rather large fire that was unexpected. I got banned by the cooks from the kitchen. So did Makoto just in case.”

Saiguu and Yae exchange glances with Saiguu starting to steer Ei out of the kitchen. “Don’t worry. Yae can handle the rest. Say, I got a swell clock in my garage that you can look at in the meanwhile…”

Yae salvages the cookies, and they taste all right. She knocks on the door leading to the garage, announcing the successful baking. Everyone returns to the kitchen where Ei happily snacks on the treats.

Her aunt is still glancing between them, looking as if she’s evaluating something unspoken. Yae swears that Saiguu waits until Yae is munching on a cookie to ask, “Say, Good-Looking. Did your family ever talk to you about sex?”

Yae chokes on her crumbs, downing a glass of milk while Ei nods. “Makoto once asked our parents about sexual relationships in high school, and she got treated to a two hour presentation with diagrams. I never did, and I think my parents were relieved.”

Yae would be too. Saiguu presses on. “So, you’d never…?”

“No, I looked it up and asked a few doctors when I had the chance. I understand it from a medical perspective.” Ei pauses. “And I suppose from a personal one now too.”

Yae cuts her off. “That’s too much info—“

“Tell me more. Is Yae doing a good job of satisfying you in bed? Or do you need the touch of someone more experienced?” Saiguu ducks the half-eaten cookie Yae hurls her way. “C’mon, Cutie. Spill.”

“Uh…I don’t know?” Ei’s brows scrunch up, and she looks adorably distressed. “Yes? Our friend Sara calls her—”

“Do not tell her that!” Yae pauses. “Also, Sara and I are not friends.”

Saiguu quirks an eyebrow, clearly storing the information to interrogate Yae later. “Hmmm…how about you, Ei? How does she describe you?”

“Oh! Like a battery.” When Saiguu looks surprised, Ei adds, “Because she says I keep going and going—“

“Okay, that’s enough.” Yae slams her glass on the table, nearly sloshing her drink onto it. “This is not an appropriate topic to discuss.”

Ei looks puzzled while Saiguu rolls her eyes. “Fine, uptight niece. We’ll change topics.” She leans in. “So, Cutie…” Saiguu sidelong glances at Yae. “What do you think about getting married and having kids?”

Yae scowls as Ei’s brows come together. “Don’t ask her about such outdated concepts. Nowadays, people don’t necessarily need to get married to show commitment to one another, and children can be such little snots—”

Ei answers, “I would like to get married and start a family.”

“—me too. I love kids.”

Saiguu snorts behind her cup of tea. “How come, Ei? Didn’t you hear Yae? Outdated concept.”

Yae shoots her a look so dirty that she hopes Saiguu feels filthy for years. Ei sits back and smiles. “The idea of marriage is relatively recent in the history of mankind, but people have always been wired for connection and community, which marriage fulfills on multiple levels. There is also a level of public accountability, which encourages the couple to take it more seriously when they know others have heard their commitment.

“My parents have always said that marriage is about unity, which I think should be the underlying foundation of any partnership—romantic or otherwise. In that sense, I think a unified couple could weather a better chance in accomplishing significant goals than those without.” She scratches her cheek in embarrassment when Yae and Saiguu stare. “My sister used to practice her debates a lot with me.”

“No shame in that.” Saiguu nods in approval. “When were you thinking about kids then?”

Ei furrows her brows. “I suppose the correct answer is when we are emotionally mature enough and prepared to have them.”

“You’ll never be prepared enough. That’s just how it is.” Saiguu shrugs.

“Oh. Then, within the optimal biological window for childbearing.”

“Better get to popping out them babies you love so much then, kid.” Her aunt winks, and Yae wants to hit her. “What kind of wedding you thinking, rich girl?”

And on and on as her aunt subtly interrogates Ei who doesn’t even notice. Yae is feeling from all the things she’s learning about Ei that she never thought to ask. Where she wanted to live after graduation, her plans, her long-term career aspirations…what kind of wedding she wanted.

Ei shrugs. “I don’t care about the extravagance. I would rather sign the marriage papers and be done with it.”

“Eloping with my baby niece? I can’t let you do that.” Saiguu leans in, winking. “Not when you could have me instead.”

Yae grabs her aunt and drags her into the living room. “Just a minute, Ei. Gotta chat about something quickly.”

When they’re out of earshot in the hallway, Yae whips around and hisses, “Can you stop flirting with her? She doesn’t pick up on it and seeing you continuing to try is giving me an ulcer.”

Saiguu studies her. “You’re really serious about this one. I’ve never seen you so upset over a girl.”

“Well, maybe you should stop trying to crawl into her pants then!”

“Nonsense! It’s a family tradition. You know that, Yae!” Saiguu tilts her head. “Plus, she is pretty hot. I can look. It’s not a crime.” At Yae’s expression, she relents, holding her hands up. “Fine. Sharing was never your thing anyway.”

“No, it wasn’t. And even if it was, it’s weird with you!”

Ei’s voice follows them down the hallway as she pokes her head out of the kitchen. “What are you guys talking about?”

“Nothing!” They both jump away.

Saiguu spots a closet nearby and lights up. “Oh, I have an idea!” She opens the door and digs inside, coming out with a cardboard box. “Ei, wanna see Miko’s teenage poetry?” She rattles the box in her hand that Yae immediately tried to snatch. “Or this fanfiction she wrote when she was 12? How about some baby pictures? I have one of her as a toddler in the bathtub.”

“Yes, I would like to see that.” Ei takes the picture as Saiguu blocks Yae from reaching it. “Oh my gosh, look at you. You’re so cute.” She gasps as Saiguu gives her another one, leaning just out of Yae’s grasp. “Oh, and your hair afterwards. It’s so fluffy!”

Yae twists around her aunt and yanks the pictures and the box into her arms. “That’s enough! You can look at these—“ Yae mutters quickly, “—never. Anyway, Ei, want to see my room?”

Saiguu calls out after them as they ascend the stairs, “Feel free to bury or burn those! I have back-ups!”

Yae feels a vein in her temple throb. She recalls why she applied for post-secondary residency the moment she could and never looked back. She chucks the box aside into a spare storage room, marking it for burning later before guiding them to a door at the far end of the upstairs hallway.

Yae takes a moment and swallows, opening the door to her room.

They step inside to a large bedroom with posters of various bands and movies on the wall, the large window beside the bed allowing a lot of natural light in. It looks clean and dustless, like Yae merely stepped back in time to the day she left for Inazuma City.

Ei peers around curiously, going immediately for the bookshelf by the desk. “That is a lot of reading material.”

Yae nods, reaching out to fondly skim her fingers across the spines like she’s greeting old friends. “I was a pretty voracious reader when I was younger—light novels, traditional ones, non-fiction…anything I could get my hands on.”

Ei furrows her brows as she reads some of the titles. “‘I Died and was Reborned as a Hamster for 245 Days’?”

“That one brings up so many questions.” Yae crosses her arms, contemplative. “Apparently, in that one, becoming a hamster is a punishment for the cardinal sin of being a fashion designer. There’s even a romance between the hamster and his new owner, a fashion designer from a rival company. The hamster then goes on to become a fashion sensation.”

Ei looks absolutely baffled, and Yae laughs at her adorable expression. “Not literally. It’s just a silly story.”

“But why write something so bizarre?”

“For fun. People are always telling stories to themselves or others, and our imaginations are forever wandering. Yet, if you look at the epics and poems written in times past, you can see patterns of kind of stories that stay around: timeless love stories, tales of war and struggle, legends about kings and queens rising to the call when their nations are in trouble.” Yae smiles. “It’s all so fascinating what it says about the human psyche in general. That what we fundamentally yearn for doesn’t change no matter how advanced we get.”

“I’ve never heard you speak so much on what you like.” When Yae opens her mouth to change the topic, Ei interrupts her. “I like it. I really do. I want to hear how you think, Miko. I find you fascinating.”

Yae feels her ears heat up, and she clears her throat, turning to the nearby desk. “In any case, I can show you the rest of my room.”

“Wait, is that a diary on your desk?”

“No.” Yae snatches up the book in question and tucks it under her arm. “Next section.” She leads Ei to her bed, a double-sized piece that felt so big when she was small and yet not enough now that she has Ei with her.

“This blanket feels nice.” Ei lies down on the bed, and the sight of her on Yae’s childhood duvet makes Yae feel oddly vulnerable. “Come here.”

Yae watches for a second before tucking her diary away in a drawer and curling up beside Ei. Immediately, Ei turns to her, pulling her close and running her fingers through Yae’s hair, and Yae melts right into her arms.

Humming, Ei presses kisses into Yae’s cheek that have her feeling like a flower turning toward the sun. Yae mutters, “Finally, some peace and quiet.”

“It’s not all bad. Your aunt’s pretty funny, and your room is pretty nice.” Ei frowns. “Though she clearly knows who I am, but you don’t. How come?”

Yae shifts, raising herself on one elbow. “Whoever your family is seems like a big topic for you. I wanted to wait for you to bring it up yourself instead of prying.” Not like she hasn’t stared at a search engine page on her laptop without great temptation though. “I respect your privacy, Ei. Sometimes, we just want to be ourselves without the family reputation hanging over us.”

Ei reaches for Yae, burying her face into Yae’s midsection. “You get it. I’m sorry I haven’t told you before…but I will soon.”

“Take your time.” Yae runs her fingers through Ei’s hair, heartbeat pounding. “I’m not going anywhere.”

“Thank you.” Ei takes her hand and kisses it affectionately, making Yae’s heart feel like it might explode out of her chest. “You always seem to know how to read me.”

“’re not the hardest person to decipher.”

Ei scoffs, “Tell that to everyone else around me other than my friends and Makoto.” She sighs, rubbing her face. “Sorry, that just came out.”

“You’re allowed to be frustrated and upset.” Yae strokes her cheek in a gesture so tender that if Saiguu saw it, Yae would deny it to her dying breath and beyond. “I wish you wouldn’t hold in so much.”

Bringing her brows together, Ei frowns. “It’s hard to articulate what I feel sometimes. It’s kind of just a vague mess at times.”

Yae hums. “Sort it out at your own pace. I have patience.” For her anyway. For everyone else that comes with her—not so much. “Hey, let’s talk about something else. Anything.”

Ei begins sharing her new upgrade ideas for her battle bots. Yae stops her with a finger gently pressed against her lips. “Almost anything.”

They talk about all sorts of random things as the sun starts to dip below the horizon, the pair of them moving close together the darker it gets. Sara’s and Kokomi’s relationship, Makoto’s proposed dorm arrangements, how Yae’s hobby on campus is going—everything and anything they chat about seems to click together smoothly like well-oiled pieces. Yae has never been able to communicate with someone as easily as she does with her, and based on the way Ei’s expression lights up whenever she talks to Yae, the feeling is mutual.

Sunset starts to darken into dusk. Ei looks beautiful on her bed in the fading sunlight—eyes lit up and expression dangerously fond. Yae pauses above her, like a fox coming across something strange and alluring, paw reaching out tentatively towards it. Ei’s eyes grow half-lidded, and she runs her fingers along Yae’s hips, reminding her of that girl she saw at that club all those nights ago. “Would it be wrong of me to say that you have one of the best figures I have ever seen?”

“Why would it—” Ei’s thumbs trail down the crests of her hip bones, and Yae loses her train of thought. “—uh…what are you doing?”

“Appreciating you.” Ei grins, eye teeth showing and eyes half-lidded. “You do like being…appreciated, don’t you, Miko?”

Wow. Where is this Ei coming from? “I think you’re stealing some of my lines.”

“Well…” Ei’s nose brushes against hers. “I like to learn from those more successful than me at their subjects.” Then, she breaks the mood by genuinely smiling. “I think I’m getting the hang of this flirting thing.”

“You dork,” Yae says affectionately and sits up from her bed, brushing invisible specks off of her skirt, voice calm as if she didn’t just consider making mad love to Ei on the spot moments earlier. “We should head down before my aunt thinks we’re defiling her precious house. She’d never let us live it down if she does.”

She takes Ei by the hand to lead her downstairs. Saiguu is out in the backyard, trying to light up a barbecue that looks like it hasn’t been used in ages.

“Hey, the useful one of you guys, give me a hand?” Saiguu grumbles, pointing at Ei when she stands on the porch looking confused. “Yes, you, Gorgeous. Get over here, and help me figure out how to get this thing going.”

Ei glances at Yae before heading down the stairs to stare at Saiguu’s set-up.

Yae folds her arms and watches Ei furrow her brows and interact with her aunt as they work. She wouldn’t mind if Ei were to come back again and stay longer. Maybe forever.

Shaking her head, Yae pushes aside the wistful thinking and heads down to help her most favourite people in the world. Not that she’ll tell them that.

Later that evening, after they finally get the barbecue working and have eaten their fill, they sit in the backyard, staring up at the stars while Saiguu points out the various constellations and the stories behind them. Ei sneaks a hand under the table to hold Yae’s, and warmth blossoms in Yae’s chest as she studies how Ei asks Saiguu questions with such earnestness, the pretty profile that has her heartbeat rise every time Yae looks upon it.

Saiguu seems to have noticed because at some point, she sighs and announces that she has prepared the guest bedroom for Ei to stay in, much to Yae’s protests. “Listen, If I wanted to see two idiots try to fuck each other under my roof, I would have hired two different contractors to work on my basement.”

She stands, shooing them both inside. “My house, my rules. You know that, Yae.”

And Yae knows how to perfectly break those rules.

If only Ei will play along.

“Really?” Yae follows Ei as she brings her luggage to the guest room. “You’re not letting me sneak in?”

“It would be disrespectful to your aunt’s hospitality to blatantly disobey her requests.” How noble and utterly frustrating. “That, and I want to leave a good impression.” Ei’s eyes flicker. “I hope I have so far.”

“You’re doing fine.” More than that if the way Saiguu eyes her is any indication. Yae is going to have another talk with her. “See you in the morning?”

Ei looks at her with such fondness that Yae never wants to leave. “Yes, I’ll see you soon.”

The goodnight kiss alone is almost worth the separation.