声優かっ! © 南マキ

Persona

It was the same as she remembered, the room not having change since she'd first stepped foot into it. It was pristine; no specks of dirt on the shiny counter tops, the oak dining table had the exact same number of chairs, none out of place. The only hint that it wasn't a show home was the small tufts of cat fur on the chairs. They were well trained, resisting jumping onto the counters and where food was placed.

"As always, it's delicious, Onii-chan," Hime complimented, the spoon passing her lips moments after. "This is the best yet."

The smile he offered her was one of the best yet as it reached his eyes, displaying an expression Hime never thought she'd see with her own eyes. There was a façade she had to put on to get that very same smile, though. If Senri found out that she was, in fact, not whom he thought she was, the curve of his lips wouldn't appear again.

"Haven't any of the cats tried to steal your cooking yet?" she joked. "This could easily be sold in stores!"

He must have already completed his goal of making the perfect omelette, her taste buds knew that, for sure. And yet there they were weeks after, still holding the makeshift tasting ceremony where he would nervously hover whilst trying to cover up his anxious eyes with a smart, quick comment. Senri was more friendly than the aura he emitted. He wasn't someone who deserved to be lied to, but the alibi came out easy, as if it was a slip of her tongue.

"Didn't I tell you, Shiro?" His voice was low as he leaned onto the table, nervous energy being converted into confidence. "I said I'd be able to do it."

"They're perfect now." Shiro. She was Shiro; she had to be that name. Although donning the persona only meant a wardrobe change and an increasingly itchy wig, it was their friendship that was making it the most difficult. Hime glanced down to her spare hand, wanting to count on her fingers the about of times he'd addressed her properly, with her real name. "I'm happy to be able to eat the food you make again."

"The shape of the omelette isn't perfect yet." He frowned, skipping over the last comment. "Next time, it will be perfect."

And there was the sly invitation to come over again, welcoming her back in the territory that was slowly becoming more familiar. Was it like this with most friends? She hadn't frequented the same place enough times to know, but Hime was sure she knew where each cat liked to sleep and exactly what time they were fed. The apartment she was always intruding had a routine, and the reason it was becoming messed up was purely selfish. To see just a small flicker of emotions within Senri's eyes, ones that weren't anger, for once, made her chest fill with pride. It couldn't have been acting—his voice was trained, not his eyes.

"Everything's perfect already," Hime murmured, closing her eyes. She wanted to picture a different scenario, one where they could have been sat down in their school uniforms and discussing their classmates. They shared more things than Senri knew about. More than what Shiro should have known.

As much as Hime wanted to hold onto her new name with pride, she wanted to push it away at the same time. The few characters had given her independence, a minuscule place in the industry and somehow let her worm her way into Senri's home more than enough times. If she was just Hime, and Hime alone, she would've still been living securely in her sister's shadow.

"If I served you bad food, would you eat it?" she asked not as tentatively as intended.

When the words left her lips, Hime's hand flew to her mouth to cover it. She was resisting the urge to scratch the air, trying to claw the question back so he couldn't process it.

Senri's reaction surprised her, though. "...It would be only fair."

He was admitting a flaw, accepting it and realising how he'd made himself better. And there she sat, feeling as though she was just a giant flaw.

His feeling couldn't have been an act, just to get further in life. That theory might have worked if they weren't as close as they were—they were friends, weren't they? "And what if I've been lying to you?"

Senri visibly deflated. His eyes widened as any positive expression drained from his face, the firm set of his lips returning; he was the cold mask he was in school, once again. "What's there to lie about?" he asked, coldly.

Apart from her personality, she was a lie to him. He wouldn't welcome the truth with open arms, just as he didn't welcome her real appearance. The new persona that was created for her was acting as the bridge between them, allowing conversations and the small, but ever so a welcome, smiles.

"There's nothing," she lied, voice low as the smile only just reached her eyes, "nothing at all."

Lies allowed her to see Senri smile, display a different personality than what he had in school and for her heart to beat erratically within her chest. Hime's cheeks warmed as she scooped another spoonful of the lukewarm food, looking anywhere but at the sly, wide smile across Senri's lips.

AN: My first time writing with these characters so I tried to keep it sweet and simple. I hope it wasn't too confusing.