Lumia stayed quiet about her worries for the rest of Sora and Rui's day out. She didn't want to get between the two of them, so acted like nothing was wrong. She commented on the animals with the two of them, talked to Sora a bit whenever they had a small break and was generally her usual self. Lumia was a spectator to all of it and acted accordingly; never making her presence overly loud. When they all returned home, Lumia was hidden away in Rui's bags; after all, Rui couldn't let her parents catch on that she'd been spending her time on a card game, magical or not. Lumia just had to hear the muffled yells of Sora and Rui's parents bearing their wrath down upon the younger of the two. She couldn't see it, but she knew Rui well enough to know that pained expression she often makes when it came to Sora. That feeling of guilt that chews away at her. After all... Rui's wish was sprouted from those feelings of guilt and anger.
Eventually, Rui came to her room and let Lumia out of the bag, perching her up against the side of some books on her desk. "Sorry I couldn't let you out earlier," she apologized with a soft smile. Rui got her textbooks together to start studying, but Lumia just looked away.
"...You two looked happy today, you know." Lumia said. She followed it up with: "Why do you let your family decide your life like this?"
Rui paused for a bit, then turned to Lumia and chuckled a little. "What, are you worried about me?" she asked in a joking tone, trying to both deflect the question and lighten the mood.
"Of course I am! When you're with your brother, you look like you're having so much fun... like you don't need me. But when it comes to Nexus, you... you become a different person. Cold, and vicious... I... I don't think it's a good idea to keep battling like that," she told her commander. Rui's mood darkened again.
"...Sora was smiling, right?" she bounced back to Lumia. "When he defeated Sakura... first, he was concerned, but his mood became better after, right? I think the memory he must've gotten back was a happy one. Something he didn't want to lose again. So if he can get his memories back-"
"But you didn't get yours back!" Lumia blurted out. "When we defeated that girl the other day, your coin turned gold... but you never got a memory back. It's like you didn't want to remember at all. I don't want you to battle like that..." Lumia pleaded with her Commander. Rui didn't answer her back. Not until after a moment of silence, when Rui shot a glance her Avatar's way.
"Maybe you're right. I'll be more careful, Lumia." she eventually said, but the words she promised were hollow.
Come the next day, Lumia was sluggish to rise and shine. Even though, or maybe because it was another one of her days off, she'd stayed up late through the night trying to study. Her parents being out of the house the whole day meant she also had plenty of time to sleep in. Rui would've actually kept sleeping for much longer, but Lumia's voice was desperately trying to reach her. "Nee-chan! Nee-chan!" she kept crying out. It got to a point where Rui couldn't keep ignoring it.
"What is it, Lumia...?" she sleepily said to her Avatar, rubbing the exhaustion out of her eyes.
"There's trouble! A commander is in the house!" Lumia warned Rui.
"...Eh?" Rui voiced back.
Still in her pajamas, Rui rushed out of bed and opened the door of her room. She could clearly hear the voices coming from the living room, slowly shuffling closer to its source. Making sure to stay out of sight, she peered into the living room from about halfway down the stairs.
"Come on, it's fine, just let me stay like this a bit," a slightly needy voice complained to Sora. It was coming from a girl about his age- no, slightly younger. One who had nestled herself comfortably by resting her head on his shoulder and leaning up against him. Rui's face contorted into a scowl; partially from the awkwardness of Sora bringing a girl into the house without letting Rui know, and partially because Rui felt like she should... know that person. Her head began to pound and she crouched down on her knees, one hand holding for support against the stair's railings and the other clutching her forehead.
The pain brought something with it. She felt like she started to... remember something. She pulled the hand on her head away and saw her seven coins, four black and three gold, appear inside it. One of them gave off a faint glow- the one she'd won back from that girl she'd faced a few days prior. "Na... tsu... ko..." she slowly fumbled out, loud enough for the girl in their living room to hear. Startled, she pushed herself off Sora and looked in the direction of the open doorway Rui had previously peered at her from.
"Oh! Rui..." Natsuko yelped, causing Rui to whip her head around. Shoot- she was still in her nightwear! Oh that's embarrassing... Rui quickly stood up and gave Natsuko a slightly nervous smile.
"Ahaha... hi, Natsuko-chan... I didn't know you'd be coming over today," Rui awkwardly told her. In truth, she should have known. Natsuko always came over when Rui and Sora's parents were out of the house. It's just that Rui had forgotten all about it- just like the day prior at the zoo. She didn't know who her and Sora's friends were, up until a few moments back. She didn't even know that Haruto had been a friend of theirs, once, since childhood. She didn't have any time to recall specifics- but if she wasn't wrong, Natsuko had only known Sora since middle school... a few years, at best.
For Natsuko's part, she just puffed up her chest and twirled a bit of hair around her finger. "I'm not intruding, am I? I could come back later, but I don't really want to..." she complained, making her displeasure at Rui showing up known. For her part, Rui didn't suspect a thing.
"Oh! No, not at all. I was just going to study today like usual; you two have fun! I'll just get ready and head to the library so you can be alone," she told the two of them and skipped back up the stairs. As Rui got dressed and packed her books into her bag, Lumia spoke.
"Is it okay for you to leave, Nee-chan? That girl is a commander," Lumia warned her.
"It's okay. I know Natsuko-chan... she's a sweet girl. She wouldn't do anything to Sora," Rui cheerfully hummed. Lumia had her reservations, but being an outside, left the issue to the wayside. Maybe Rui was right and she shouldn't worry so much.
Eventually Rui was all done, ran down the stairs and put on her shoes at the entrance. She couldn't see the living room from there, but because the door was still open, she could yell back: "I'm going out now! Have fun, okay?!" and left the house soon after. She walked along the road, Lumia in hand and scarf covering her mouth for warmth. Rui shot a look at her Avatar. "...The library is a public space. We're sure to run in a commander there," she told Lumia.
"Did you even listen to me yesterday?" Lumia said, unamused.
"It'll be okay as long as you keep me in line," Rui cheekily clapped back. "I trust you, Lumia. As long as you're with me, it'll be okay."
"Nee-chan..." was all Lumia could say back to her. It was so very, very bittersweet to her. She didn't deserve that trust in the slightest.
"I'm not intruding, am I? I could come back later, but I don't really want to..." Natsuko complained, about to grind her teeth in frustration at Sora's sister coming in to ruin the mood she'd been working so hard to build up. Sure, said sister reassured her that she'd be out and about for the rest of the day, but now things were awkward between Natsuko and Sora! Ema, sensing the unease coming from her commander, decided to take action.
"Cheer up, nyaaa. You probably woke her up from a cat-nap," she said, lying down in her card border and letting out a yawn as if to demonstrate. The ears on her hoody even did a little twitch, as if they were the real deal.
"I-I'm not upset! She just... caught me by surprise," Natsuko complained with a pout. Ema just smiles with her eyes closed, playfully mocking her commander. Natsuko soon lowered her again, right next to Wolf.
"So she's the other commander, nya?" Ema asked the other Avatar. The two avatars had been talking about it a bit, though not like Ema had told Natsuko about it. She also, rightfully, figured that Natsuko wouldn't pay much attention to the conversation as long as Ema didn't raise her voice too much. "Well, I don't really care. Natsuko's stubborn about battling Sora, not Rui." she said, one eye open to look in Wolf's direction.
Natsuko, meanwhile, just went back to getting close with Sora. She turned to him with a frown and reached her hand out, brushing some of his hair aside. "You're such a slob, Sora-kun... don't let your hair hang in front of your eye like that," she complained, almost as if she was his older sister and not Rui. Like she was jealous of Rui, registering her as a threat and trying to usurp that role herself. She wanted Sora to herself. To help with that, after cleaning up his hairdo, she snuggled up close again. Rui shouted something about her leaving, but Natsuko didn't give Sora a moment to think or respond. She immediately tried taking his attention away from his sister by wrapping his arm around her own and looking up into his eyes.
"So? Did anything fun recently?" she asked him, a sweet smile on her lips.