I took him out to the yard, where a girl with chin-length, honey-brown hair was waiting. She beamed brightly when she saw us. “Good afternoon, Master Kaemon!” she greeted cheerfully. “And…you must be Jiro! Nice to meet you, I’m Ikki.”
The two shook hands. “Nice to meet you too, Ikki,” Jiro replied with a polite smile. At the same time, there was a pained expression on him. Ikki’s cheerfulness probably reminded him of the Suzu that he had known.
“Let’s get straight to the issue,” I said. “Miss Ikki, have you brought your lover along today?”
Jiro was, once again, caught by surprise.
Ikki nodded. “Yes!” She turned around, and as she did, a figure emerged from the trees. It was a female with a fluffy ponytail. This time, she wasn’t dressed in a ninja outfit, nor was she disguised as a boy. Ikki wrapped her arms around the girl as she explained, “I know that Suzu hasn’t been nice, but she was just trying to gain recognition as a female. Please forgive her.”
“If I had a place in the Senwan clan where I’m from, I might be able to make my own decisions, and be with Ikki. That’s why I came here in disguise. Jiro, you don’t have to forgive me. I don’t think I can face you anytime soon either, but…just thought you should know,” Suzu said.
“We can be friends even if we’re married, right, Jiro?” Ikki asked enthusiastically. “That way, in the future, all of Foaane, Senwan, and Haki can be on good terms…though Suzu still has more work to do to gain Master Minoru’s recognition!”
Suzu sighed. “Yes.”
“Problem solved?” I asked Jiro, smiling down at him. I had never noticed before that I never smiled. It was only when I started smiling that I’d realized my expression must have been serene all the time.
At last, Jiro beamed up at me. “Yes, Master Kaemon.”
“Finally?” Just as I hadn’t realized I had never smiled, Jiro was unaware of his own expressions.
“Finally you smile again.”
In response, his smile grew. Next to us, Ikki squealed in excitement.
“What’s with you?” Suzu asked, tilting her head.
“Us or them?” Suzu asked again.
“Hahaha…” Suzu shook her head, laughing.
I turned to Jiro. He, too, turned to me. Once again, I pressed my lips on his, this time not for the purpose of soothing his fears.
From now on, your fears will no longer haunt you. I have resolved everything for you.