Ōkami-san to Shichinin no Nakama-tachi Fanfiction: Okami-san is the True Sweetheart (But Not a True Maid) - 32. Chapter 32
“RYOKO, HOW COULD YOU?!”
Tiny nails, bitten raw from weeks of worry, dig into my forearms, and in a rush of red shirts and flouncing ruffles—schoolgirl flats skipping over the bus stop curb, disregarding any oncoming traffic—my best friend attacks my waist in a suffocating hug. I roll my eyes and try to get her off me, but as usual, when Ringo wants her way, it’s better to just give in. I allow myself a sigh and hold her against my heart, my eyes slightly dazzled by the piercing ruby glint the sunshine makes on her hair. I did sorta miss Ringo’s mothering… maybe just a little.
“We were worried sick! You didn’t even leave us a note!” she cries. Prying herself off me, she, Otsu, Taro, Otohime, Alice, and of course, the President, glare at Ryoshi and I in the afternoon sun. Otsu and Otohime jump towards us like they want their turn at a hug, but Ringo isn’t finished grilling us like fresh fish, and from the looks of things, won’t be done for a while.
The rest of the Bank huddles close to us, relieved worry and happiness shining around them. As soon as we reached the city, Ryoshi’s grandfather phoned the headmaster, and that old perv had told the President within five minutes of receiving it (no doubt drooling for his pictures I was supposed to return with—like hell that was gonna happen) and the entire cub sprinted to the bus stop to catch us. The last time I was at this stop, it was five in the morning, and pitch black—so I had no clue where we were until Grampa dropped us off here, with nothing but each other and a wink. He had the right idea, pulling away before the Ringo Retribution could rain down on us like a hailstorm. To be honest, I’m still surprised lightning hasn’t struck me down yet. Pack your bags, kids, it’s time for a major guilt trip!
“I know, I know, but—”
“We’re sorry Ringo, really. Things were kind of a wreck,” Ryoshi admits, laughing awkwardly.
“Well… I suppose I could forgive you…” Ringo says with a hmph. “After all, I’m assuming this was a very romantic act of love and desperation, isn’t that so, Ryoko?” The familiar fiendish smile blossoms across her face. So this is how she’s gonna punish me, by making me totally kill myself in front of the whole Bank. Ringo’s grin sparkles like a conformation.
Luckily, Otohime bounces in, crushing me and Ryoshi both in a tight embrace, giggling as I struggle to breathe through the clumps of silky dark hair smothering my breathing orifices.
“Oh, of course it was, Ringo! Just look at them! Love is such a beautiful thing, and I just know they’re sharing it together already. I’m so happy Ryoko finally gets to experience love like I get from Taro every day. We can even go on double dates!” Blushing with pleasure, Otohime skirts away from me long enough to grasp Taro’s arm and I seize the opportunity to get some freakin’ air, smiling to myself. I might not be big on PDA, but my friends’ affection is so hard to resist… and why would I want to?
“I agree completely,” muses the President. “I was never worried of course. One chat with the Headmaster clarified your locations immediately.”
The Bank gapes at him.
“What the—do you mean to say you knew?” spat Alice. “You made me spend days trying to track them!”
The President waves his hand.
“Yes, well. I only did it to help you, my dear. It would have upset you to have nothing to do to help,” the Prez rambles nervously, taking small steps from his cousin, who’s getting redder and redder.
“It. Was. Exhausting! I stayed up for hours while you went and played Pokemon Go in the red light district, you little—!”
“Oh dear!” frets Otsu, “Um, anyways, we really missed you both!” She exclaims over Alice and Liszt’s bitching. Otohime wrestles Alice from her cousin, hair flying everywhere in the struggle. Dodging the fuss, Taro edges closer to me and I frown in anticipation of the cancer to come.
“I especially missed you, Ryoko,” purrs Taro, stealing his chance to be free from his girlfriend. “You had to wear a maid uniform, I hear? Why, you must have been a real treat to beh—” Suddenly, Taro glances at Ryoshi. “…for Ryoshi to behold,” he concludes and winks. He flips back his silver hair, turning to untangle Otohime from Alice’s back.
“Wait, what? Did TARO just respect someone’s relationship status?” Ringo stares.
“I think I need to sit down,” I stutter. “If that just happened, I’m in the emergency room suffering from severe delusions.”
The President claps his hands suddenly, and we jerk to attention.
“Alright then! We seem to have our two members back in one piece,” he concludes. “And not only in one piece… but together.” He opens a single amber eye.
“Is that the case?”
My heart pounds, and anxiety swims up my spine. I inhale deeply, shutting my eyes to the brightness, and the eager faces. Relax, Okami. These people… these people…
My eyes flutter open. Sunlight, and Ringo’s glittering smile. Otohime’s warmth, coming off her like a pretty glow. Taro’s gentle, protective aura. The President and Alice, standing expectantly, their fight forgotten. Otsu’s white palms pressed together in front of her lap, brown eyes twinkling at the scene she helped create. And beside me…Ryoshi. My hunter.
I am captured. Not just by Ryoshi. By each of them.
I shouldn’t… I won’t be afraid. Not anymore.
My hand trembles… but I reach out and claps Ryoshi’s warm fingers.
These people are my friends.
“Yeah… Yeah. It’s the case.”
At first no one says a word, until Ringo opens her mouth and shouts,