[Sequel to: Fallen Angel Hunt]
Kanan didn’t have the full story. She only had Dia’s take on it, plus a few words from Hanamaru. And Dia was livid.
Which Kanan could understand. Dia was very protective of Ruby, and Kanan would have probably felt similarly if she had a younger sister.
And she agreed that Ruby and Yoshiko needed to talk this through. Ruby wasn’t doing well, and clearly neither was Yoshiko. Though the latter might be in part due to how Dia was laying into her.
Yoshiko hadn’t said much. Maybe Dia couldn’t pick up on it, but Kanan could clearly see the girl was feeling guilty and awful. What little she had said made it just seem like a misunderstanding gone horribly wrong, though Dia wouldn’t hear it.
Kanan knew she had to intervene, or they weren’t getting anywhere. It had already been 10 minutes they’d just been standing here, and people were looking at them.
“Dia,” she said, cutting Dia off mid-sentence. “I think that’s enough. We should get going. You wanted her to talk things through with Ruby-chan, right?” Yoshiko went from blushing of shame, to all the colour draining from her face. Kanan gently put an arm around her in case she was about to run. This needed to be resolved. She had spent too much time running from Mari to stand by and let that mistake happen to anyone else.
Dia looked a little annoyed at being interrupted, but mostly seemed really conflicted. She knew it had to be done, even if she didn’t want to. Dia was really transparent most of the time, especially to Kanan.
“You’re right,” Dia said with a sigh, finally conceding. “But don’t think we’re done, Tsushima-san. You’re going to apologise to Ruby, and then-”
“Let’s get going then,” Kanan said pointedly, interrupting Dia again. She knew exactly what Dia wanted to say, and she didn’t feel it was any of Dia’s business. Or anyone’s besides Ruby and Yoshiko themselves. “Come along, Yoshiko-chan.” Kanan was well aware that Dia needed to be reined in at times. For her own good as much as anyone else’s.
Kanan started walking Yoshiko towards the Kurosawa residence. Yoshiko didn’t put up much resistance.
Dia hung back for a few moments before she started walking after them. Kanan knew she had to have a chat with Dia while Yoshiko talked to Ruby. Both to apologise for her rudeness, and to explain to Dia that she really shouldn’t say or do anything she might regret later.
Ruby was thankful that Hanamaru had come over again today. She was less thrilled when she heard that Dia wanted to bring Yoshiko over.
She had really tried to talk them out of it, but Dia, Hanamaru, and Kanan all agreed that Ruby and Yoshiko needed to talk things through.
Deep down Ruby knew it too. Aqours wouldn’t work without all nine of them, not to mention saving the friendship between Ruby, Hanamaru, and Yoshiko. And Ruby’s feelings…
Right now she and Hanamaru were playing cards, to try to help Ruby calm down. But Ruby was scared.
Yoshiko had been so horrible. What if she was going to be horrible this time too? It had only been two days, and Ruby wasn’t sure she was ready.
“Ha… Hanamaru-chan?” Ruby said in a small voice, and Hanamaru looked up from her cards. “Is this really going to be okay? W-what if…” Ruby couldn’t get herself to finish. Hanamaru smiled reassuringly and put her hand of cards down.
“Don’t worry, zura,” she said, and reached over the table to squeeze Ruby’s shaking hands. “Yoshiko-chan can be a little difficult, but I can’t imagine she actually meant to hurt you, zura.” Yet Ruby had been hurt.
“T-then…” Ruby started, feeling like her tears might start again. Hanamaru came around the table and hugged Ruby.
“I’m sure there’s some sort of misunderstanding,” Hanamaru said. “But if Yoshiko really is that cruel, the rest of us are here to support you, zura.” Ruby nodded. She was still a little scared, but she needed to be strong right now.
Well… soon. It was okay to keep leaning on Hanamaru until Yoshiko arrived, right?
The trip to the Kurosawa residence went by mostly in silence, which Yoshiko was thankful for.
Dia kept giving her angry looks, but at least there was no more yelling.
Yoshiko was grateful for Kanan’s help, even if it didn’t extend to letting Yoshiko run away and move to a different prefecture.
Once they arrived, Yoshiko was struck with the feeling that she really didn’t want to go inside. Ruby was in there. Yoshiko didn’t have the faintest idea what she could say to her. Besides ‘I’m really sorry’.
She had gotten to rest up a bit on the bus and all, maybe she could make a run for it… though as if she read her mind, Kanan squeezed Yoshiko’s arm gently. She wasn’t going anywhere.
Feeling rather dejected, she was led inside. Kanan asked Dia to stay in the living area, and after a bit of grumbling she agreed. Kanan would be the one to deliver Yoshiko to her infernal fate.
Walking down the corridor to Ruby’s room felt like being guided into purgatory. She certainly had to atone for her sins here. Kanan knocked on the door.
“Ruby-chan? Hanamaru-chan? I’ve brought Yoshiko-chan,” Kanan said. Yoshiko flinched.
Zuramaru’s here too? she thought. Of course she was. Kanan opened the door, and Yoshiko could hear voices inside.
“Do you want me to stay with you, zura?” It was Zuramaru. She couldn’t hear Ruby’s response, but there was movement, and not long after Zuramaru came out of the room. She gave Yoshiko a stern look.
“Now be nice, Yoshiko-chan,” she said. Yoshiko wanted to reply with a comeback, but she couldn’t get the words out. Zuramaru’s expression softened a little, and she patted Yoshiko on the shoulder. “Good luck, zura,” she added, before she and Kanan went back towards the living area.
Yoshiko was now alone outside Ruby’s room. This was her last chance to run. But no, not at this point. She stepped into the door frame, and saw Ruby for the first time in two days. Two long days.
The look Ruby was giving her made it feel like someone was twisting a knife stuck in her. She is afraid, Yoshiko thought. Ruby wasn’t the only one, though. Yoshiko swallowed nervously and actually stepped into the room.
[Sequel: Heated Confrontation]