22 - A Banquet of Gratitude
Miyo tightened her sash as she felt like she had been reborn.
The kimono, sash, and accessories on her body—all of them were brand new and quality items.
When she looked in the mirror, a woman dressed in a sakura-colored kimono resembling her mother in her dreams was reflected. It took her a while to realize that she was looking at herself.
Her thin frame had been filled a bit, and the luster of her hair wasn’t far off from the brilliance of Kiyoka’s.
She probably would never forget the feeling she had when she received this kimono resembling the memento that had once been stolen from her.
Even though she was extremely grateful that Kiyoka had several kimonos tailored for her, she couldn’t believe that he had chosen such a fitting color for her without having realized it. She continued to ask herself this unreasonable question: How much could she be overjoyed by him?
To be frank, she was so happy that she couldn’t even say anything.
There was no doubt that someone would find her strange for grinning as she stared at the kimono.
She would also be welcoming and entertaining Godou in such an outfit today as well. This was, of course, as thanks for the other day.
(I hope Sir Godou will be pleased.)
Miyo had asked Kiyoka about Godou’s preferences just in case, but she didn’t have much experience with meeting others and was thus unconfident.
(It can’t be helped that I’m this anxious.)
She had applied makeup in front of the mirror just as Yurie had taught her before she hurried to the kitchen to prepare for the banquet.
* * *
“Oh hoh, I’m looking forward to it.”
In the car on the way home, Godou jokingly muttered before Kiyoka shot him a sharp look.
“According to our deal, it should’ve been just a simple treat at the bar.”
“Miss Miyo ’ll make a firm and good wife.”
“Don’t address her so casually.”
This was pretty narrow-minded for him, but Kiyoka couldn’t let someone who casually called his fiancée “Miss Miyo” live.
“Wh-what are you saying? You can’t let them live?!”
“…Sorry, that was supposed to stay inside my head.”
“I know that you’re serious about that!”
The subordinate lamented that he would be killed by his savage superior, so Kiyoka reflexively shot a cold glare. He put a hand on the saber at his waist, but, well, that too was also on reflex.
Anyway, Kiyoka was surprised when Miyo proposed that she would entertain Godou.
No matter what the reason was, he couldn’t believe until recently that she would go out of her way to meet other people. This was connected to her long confinement in the Saimori household where she was severed from human contact and started to self-deprecate herself after an incident in the past.
However, now that her appearance will be cleaner and her self-esteem will be raised in the future, Kiyoka was very pleased.
“You could scatter those watch-out shikis, right?”
“No problem. I won’t make that level of a mistake.”
Godou looked behind them.
There currently weren’t any of those annoying shikis that followed Kiyoka every day. While it was slightly hard to deceive human eyes, there was no issue in deluding the eyes of a shiki.
He didn’t doubt that the enemy believed that Kiyoka’s residence was inside the metropolitan area.
The reason why he had Godou escort Hana was nothing more than a precaution.
After all, everything had been guarded so lackadaisically.
“Well, that’s true too. I asked a stupid question.”
Still, Godou continued.
“The quality of the Supernatural Users recently have been on a downward slope.”
“Well, since the number of users themselves had been dropping, it can’t be helped.”
With the influx of culture from the West, the empire’s technological advancements have been increasing each year. The existence of supernaturals was being denied, their numbers were greatly decreased, and the Supernatural Users in the Subjugation Troops have been nothing but failures who had to be fired.
Because of these circumstances, it was beyond obvious that Supernatural Users from weak bloodlines would be lacking in power.
Even Kiyoka, who could be said to be the current strongest, couldn’t be called an expert in the eyes of the users from the past.
As the two talked, the automobile arrived at Kiyoka’s home.
“—We’re here. Get out.”
As the superior forced to drive, Kiyoka kicked Godou out who had been sitting in the passenger seat and talking his mouth off.
When that happened, he let out a weird cry and started to voice his complaint.
“Hey, don’t be so rough with me~. I’ll tell Miss Miyo about you.”
“…… I see. That can’t be helped. Guess I’ll have to make it that you can’t open your mouth anymore.”
“That was fast! Or rather, how scary…”
Godou turned pale.
Though for someone who wasn’t actually afraid of Kiyoka, he pulled off quite the act. In response, Kiyoka let out a sigh at his dramatic subordinate.
As usual, Miyo was waiting for him by the entranceway. As he couldn’t see Yurie, she must have already left.
“Welcome home, my husband. And welcome to our home, Sir Godou.”
Miyo slowly bowed in her beautiful outfit.
It was one of the kimonos he had bought and half-forced her to accept by claiming that it was thanks for the hair tie the other day. Just as he had thought, the sakura color he chose fitted her perfectly.
Her complexion had gotten better as her cheeks were light pink. Her jet-black hair was also properly combed. The wrists peering out from her sleeves still looked like they would break at any time, but they didn’t feel as unhealthy as before.
It was like she had been truly reborn.
It felt like polishing a rock picked up on the roadside to discover a jewel inside. —It was just as Keiko from “Suzushima-ya” had said it.
Although it annoyed him, he had to thank Saimori for handing Miyo over to him.
“Husband? Is something the matter?”
“No…it looks good on you.”
He accidentally voiced his true feelings and immediately felt embarrassed.
(What am I even saying?)
One second later, Miyo turned bright red and he couldn’t stand it any longer.
He wanted to say, “You can go home now,” and land one good kick on the astonished Godou, but he couldn’t do such things in front of her.
To think that restraining his heart from running freely would be this difficult.
“Um, Husband. Thank you…very much. I really…love this color.”
It was worth it to have Keiko tailor this sakura-colored kimono quickly. Although it was slightly off-season, there was no problem if it made Miyo this happy.
“Ah, I apologize. Sir Godou, please, come inside…”
Miyo had finally remembered Godou’s presence and opened the door in a fluster.
On the other side, Godou gave a rare dry laugh with dead eyes and stepped inside the entranceway.
“Wow, looks delicious!”
“Please enjoy it as much as you like.”
Dishes continued to be brought out. While there were many different dishes, the amount per dish was rather low.
Each time Godou took a bite out of a dish, he voiced his excitement.
“You live with your family, so don’t you eat delicious food every day?”
“Ahaha. You don’t understand, do you, Commander? There’s a different charm to the simple flavor of dishes like this and food in the bar when compared to the taste of the food made by the cooks at home.”
Was that so?
Now that he thought about it, Kiyoka ate at least two meals made by either Miyo or Yurie once a day, so his palate might be closer to that of a commoner’s.
He had, of course, been surrounded by high-class when he was young to the point of exhaustion, so he should be aware of both sides.
“…Sir Godou, I’ll pour some more.”
“Ah, thank you very much.”
Miyo was bashful at how much her food was being praised as she poured the alcohol. Then, she once again lowered her head.
“Sir Godou, please let me say this again. Thank you very much for what you’ve done for Hana the other day.”
“I was only the driver for her ride.”
“Still…I heard that Sir Godou is my husband’s right-hand man. In that case, it was also thanks to you that I could relax and talk to my husband on that day.”
Seeing his fiancée spin such words naturally was unusual, but she looked truly dazzling.
Did she mature? Or, was this her true form? Either way, Kiyoka’s mood brightened as he drank.
“Miss Miyo… This…is the first time someone had ever said that to me… I’m so happy. Won’t you marry me?”
What an unbelievable declaration. Naturally, he couldn’t let it show and only roughened his voice.
“Godou, you bastard… You must really want to die.”
By the way, he was half-saying his true feelings.
It was true that Miyo’s abilities weren’t bad, she could do all the chores, and her personality, although lacking, was enough. He didn’t want to think about it, but she would be treasured even if she wasn’t his wife.
He imagined it and felt chills.
She would be fine with her childhood friend: the second son of the Tatsuishi family, though he didn’t like him.
Kiyoka realized that he instinctively felt uneasy and this shocked him. Was he always this attached?
“I-It’s a joke… Ah, your bloodlust! Please stop emitting your bloodlust!”
The subordinate asserted in desperation with a pale face, “In the first place, the commander never praised me…” Kiyoka stared at him with an icy-cold glare but immediately relaxed.
It was because Miyo had hesitantly opened her mouth.
“Um, Sir Godou. I am grateful for your proposal, but… I like my husband, so…”
Godou had intended it to be a light joke but was flustered at how his superior’s wife took it seriously.
“Uh! I-Isee~. I went too far with my joke…”
Kiyoka wasn’t wrong when he thought, “Hah, serves you right.”
His mouth was the cause of the disaster because he always let his mouth flap around.
Her “I like my husband” was especially amazing to hear. Kiyoka felt something in his chest.
It was most likely his heart and this made him remember that unease he felt when he thought that Miyo would’ve been fine with anyone else.
Even though that shouldn’t be as she wasn’t that type of person.
She probably only desired a place to belong, but looking at her now, she had allowed herself to accept and wear the kimono Kiyoka had one-sidedly decided to buy for her.
This was how he ended up immersed in his thoughts all alone.
“Eh?! Then, even with the leaders in the army, my husband…”
“Exactly. I’ve heard that there are even some generals who quiver just hearing the name: Kudou Kiyoka. Though, I don’t want to know what he did to deserve that~.”
Hearing the two be frank with each other was fine, but this inexcusable conversation brought Kiyoka back to his senses.
“When the commander emits his bloodlust, you would think you were looking at a real Hannya or something. The only ones who could look at the commander in the face and voice their opinions are me, oh, and his direct superior, Major General Ookaito. Either way, it’s not a lot.”
“The severity of the Anti-Supernatural Task Force’s training is famous among the top five armies of the empire. Ah, but, of course, it’s all because the commander gives merciless instructions. But, then again, that also allowed us to fight the supernatural without flinching~.”
“…Godou. Your mouth really does flap a lot.”
Hearing Godou blabber on about irrelevant things, he decided that this time, he’ll definitely cut him.
Such noise repeated as the banquet of gratitude wore on.