Chapter 20: I cried a dozen times

Applause pulled the curtains down. Masami rushed to the door the actors were going to come out of once back in their regular clothes. She knew she was going to have to wait a while and going to the door so soon was pointless, but she was too high on the adrenaline coursing through her veins to care.

When the door opened ten minutes later, her heart jumped in anticipation, only to come crashing down upon seeing someone she didn't know. This process repeated every minute or so until Dooru came out and saw the disappointment on Masami's face.

'Ew.'

The word did scratch at Masami's heart, but the sight of Kunie behind Dooru repaired the damage pretty quickly.

'Hey, babe,' Kunie said, putting her arm around Masami's shoulders and giving her a peck on the lips. Dooru gave the couple one more disgusted glare before walking as far away from them as possible.

Kunie asked Masami, 'What did you think?' She noticed how wet Masami's cheeks were, not to mention how red her nose was.

'It was amazing! I cried a dozen times! It was that beautiful. Your acting was really good too. One of the scenes that got me to cry was yours.'

'Only one?'

'You only had one sad scene, Kunie. Honestly, I thought the play was going to be a tragedy. At least it had a happy ending.'

Sahana and Toyomi came out the door hand in hand. After the group finished greeting each other, Sahana chuckled to herself and grabbed Masami's hands.

'Did you say 'happy ending' earlier?' she asked. 'I'm sure that, now that you're in a relationship, you'll get plenty of happy endings.'

While Masami bottled up her laughter, Kunie went straight for the guffaw. 'Good one, Sahana.'

Masami turned her head towards Kunie. 'Don't tell her.'

'Oh, she knows. Don't you, Sahana?'

'Maybe,' Sahana said with another chuckle. Masami stared at her with her mouth agape before the meaning of Kunie's words sunk in. She finally let herself laugh at Sahana's joke.

Kunie rolled her eyes at Sahana. 'Though you really shouldn't make such comments about our relationship.' She pulled Masami closer. 'What we get up to is none of your business.'

The heat on Masami's cheeks signalled the need to change the subject. She reached into her sizeable handbag and pulled out a plastic container which, well, contained four small chocolate-covered squids.

'Enjoy,' she said to the others. 'There's some raspberry in there too.' She looked at Kunie. 'You like those ingredients, so I mixed them together.'

As she watched Kunie put one of the squids in her mouth, her heart pulsed through her body at the speed of a rabbit fleeing from its prey. I myself had my eyes glued to the scene. Kunie bit into the squid and began to chew slowly. Very slowly. Painfully slowly. Damn it, Kunie, hurry up, for your girlfriend's sake and mine!

Kunie's eyes looked like they had Popeye disease and Masami felt on the verge of death at that very moment. But then Kunie closed her eyes and hummed in bliss. She took more bites out of the squid until it was gone.

'You did it!' she exclaimed. 'Delicious!'

Toyomi didn't like it much but Sahana did and soon the three girls were jumping up and down in their own little circle.

At this moment, I saw something shocking. A green string wrapped itself around the fingers of the three friends. I turned my head and saw someone I'd never seen before, a new god who looked at me with a smile.

At first, I thought he was trying to take my job as the guardian of romantic relationships, but then I saw that my red string remained. 'It's nice to finally meet you, Musubi-no-Kami,' he said. 'Or should I call you Yue Lao?'

I returned my attention to the three girls. 'So long as you keep the friendship between these three alive, I don't mind what you call me.'

After putting her now empty container back in her handbag, Masami took Kunie's hand and rested her head against her arm as the group headed out of the auditorium. Toyomi held Sahana's hand as well.

The night sky was cool but it was outdone by the warmth of Kunie's hand. Masami smiled contently as she looked up at the moon, silently praying to me to keep things exactly like this. Not that she needed to.