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A Few Questions

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Kaede wiped down the piano at the bar for the third time this week. She loved nothing more than playing and enjoyed the reliability of the gig, but the bar patrons were rarely respectful to the instrument… or to her, for that matter.

Frankly, most of the clientele seemed to be of dubious character. Kaede heard a lot of shifty things spoken in hushed voices. 

But if nobody was going to love the piano, then Kaede would be the one to do it! With a bottle of cleaner and a cloth in hand, Kaede arrived to her gigs 2 hours early every night. She would treat the piano the way it deserved to be treated.

And, on this particular day, the bell above the door rang.

“And I forgot to lock it… Hopefully this isn't anyone too... intimidating...” Kaede muttered. “Hello! Sorry, we’re not open yet. If you could just wait outside until the bartend...”

A young woman, about Kaede’s age, walked into the room.

A cute young woman.

Kaede ran her fingers through her hair, attempting to make herself presentable.

"I'm sorry. I assumed you were a patron. Is there anything I can do for you?"

“No, I’m sorry.” the woman replied. “I’m from the Utsugi Detective Agency. Can I ask you a few questions?”

“Oh! Well. In that case, you can ask me all the questions you’d like!”

One set of questions became two. Two sets of questions became three “Let me just pick your brain about this.” Before either of them knew it, they were talking for hours every day.

And, yet, Ayumi always seemed to have another surprising question for her.

“What are you doing tomorrow night?”

A day later, Kaede stood in the Utsugi Detective Agency office, holding a cheque and staring at an electric piano, a bit confused. 

“My coworkers got a bit tired of me blasting metal music in the office, so we agreed this was a better solution!” Ayumi said, beaming a kind smile.

“This… is a lot of money.”

“Don’t worry!” Ayumi’s male coworker replied. “Ayumi assured us you’re worth it.”

“So it’s fine!” Ayumi finished.

Kaede cleared her throat.

“Well… Thank you… I’ll try to make it worth your while!”

Several private shows later, Ayumi hung around as Kaede packed up, a smile on her face and a question on her lips.

“You know, I'm getting a new place soon... I figure working here is practically my college education, so it's time to move out. Do you want to move in with me?”

Kaede stared at the woman smiling kindly at her for a few moments.

"How thick are the walls? Can I play piano there without interruption?"

It didn't take much convincing.

Unpacking was a bit of a challenge for Kaede.

She was a sentimental person, in spite of herself, and so she came into Ayumi’s life with a suitcase of memories.



Sheet music.

Probably too much sheet music.

I mean, what if she met a young musician! She may need to give them all of her beginner’s piano books marked up in crayon from when he was 3!

A reasonable amount of sheet music.

Yeah, okay, she had most of Debussy’s solo piano works memorized at this point, but…

Okay, maybe it was slightly more sheet music than would be reasonable.

As she continued to sort it into piles, Ayumi entered the room, staring at Kaede's mess in mild disbelief.

“Are you okay in here?”

“Of course!” Kaede replied, slightly too quickly. 

“Your bed is covered in sheet music.”

“Oh! Well. Yes. This is true.”

Ayumi glanced at the clock placed in Kaede’s room.

“It’s 1:30AM.”

“This is also true…”

“And your bed is covered in sheet music.”

“I agree with that… Yeah...”

“So… you’re probably going to need to stay somewhere else, right?”

Kaede chuckled.

“And this is our answer, huh?”

That next morning, Kaede and Ayumi laid together in their shared bed.

“So… are we dating?”

Kaede laughed.

"You're the detective, Ayumi... I think you know the answer."