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Branching Paths is the 22nd chapter of Taamo's Taiyou no Ie.
|Sorezore no Michi|
|Character(s) Shown on Cover|
Sugimoto and Mao are having a discussion at the Warring States Themed Bar about something Sugimoto wanted to talk about for a long time. Mao was going to contact Hiro that she was going to be a little late, but Sugimoto interrupts saying that she already let Hiro know. Mao decides to text Hiro for the time being anyways, and she gets a message from Hiro that says that he knows Sugimoto and Mao are having dinner.
Sugimoto apologizes to Mao about herself saying that she wrote the novel (that Mao wrote). She explains that she wanted Hiro to pay attention to her if she became Kuukai, the writer of the cellphone novel. This makes Mao amazed that Sugimoto would go that far for Hiro. Sugimoto also comments how Hiro instantly agreed to eat with her when the discussion was about the novel. Mao says that it is "Hiro's disgusting hobby" which Sugimoto says that she has weird hobbies herself (such as fantasizing about commanders from Warring States Period), which makes Mao realize how similar they are. Sugimoto explains that she tried to Hiro the truth, but she would have to explain why she lied. Mao replies that she is nothing special to Hiro, but she just wants to make him happy. Suddenly, Radical says that she will stop holding back, and give all she has for Hiro. She thinks that he may realize how she feels for him. Mao, shocked by this, tells her that Hiro is extremely dense so he may not realize. Sugimoto says that she has been working hard, and even invited him to her house when she was drunk, making Mao even more shocked. Mao comments that Hiro had a stupidly surprised look when she confessed to him, and Sugimoto comments that she is feeling starting to feel frustrated. They decide to order something to eat.At school, Mao finds Chihiro and gives her a big smile when they meet. Chihiro says that she is hurt from Oda, but she's okay. Chihiro says that she needs to move on, and wants Mao to introduce her to other guys. Mao mentions that Hiro's younger brother, Daiki , is transferring here. Chihiro says that she would like to see Hiro, but the all the pictures Mao shows are pictures of Hiro from the neck down holding Croquette.
When Oda walks by, Chihiro grabs her courage to say good morning to him. Oda mentions that someone is transferring o their school, and Oda is excited to make a new friend. Chihiro retorts that Oda is too stupid for the new student. When Oda leaves, Chihiro has tears in her eyes, because she has a hard time giving up on Oda.
Mao has received her pay from her job, and she is very proud about this. Hiro messages Mao saying that her step-mother would like to talk to her. When Mao comes home, Mao's mom tells her that she wants Mao to come home. Mao says that she wants to live on her own, but her step mother wants her to know her better. She says that she can stay only for a day. Mao asks what her dad thinks, her step-mother says that her father wants it too. Mao tells her she will come back, but she only wants to go back so her dad can sign the papers so she can live alone. Her step-mother bows down, and thanks her in gratitude.
Hiro tells Mao that it's great that she is making progress. Mao says that she just wants her dad's signature so she can live alone. Mao gives Hiro her earned work money, but Hiro rejects it. Mao decides to save it to her new apartment. Mao claims that all she does is upset others. Hiro tells Mao that bothering people is what people who live together do, so she shouldn't worry about it. If Mao hadn't worried about him, he would not have been able to Daiki and Hina how he felt. Mao thanks Hiro. But inside, Hiro feels upset that Mao will leave.
Characters in Order of AppearanceEdit
Sugimoto [about Hiro]: I tried to tell Nakamura-san the truth, but I realized I would have to explain why I lied in the first place. And then I froze. I'm sorry, but please give me a little more time, before I set things straight.
Mao: ...I'm neither Hiro's girlfriend nor anything to him, really. But I don't think anyone has the right to stop another from feeling the way they do. I just wanted to be the person who could make him happy. That's all.
Mao [thoughts about Sugimoto]: Our feelings and interests are so alike. But why is it that I can't bring myself to share an honest smile with her? If only we hadn't liked the same person - maybe just maybe, things would have been different.
Mao: I'm going to try my best! All I've done is upset you and her. I'm going to work really hard from now on so I can eventually stand on even ground with him.
Hiro: Mao. I know that you don't want to be a bother or worry anyone. That's how you are, but making people worry and being a bother is what is means to live with someone. Its the same as being alone if you don't share anything with the people around you. I don't think I would have told Daiki and Hina about how I felt if it wasn't for you. I wouldn't be where I am now, if you hadn't worried about me.
Hiro [thoughts about Mao]: Why do I feel so upset? Mao is trying to move forward. I always knew that one day, Mao would have to leave this place. So why do I feel like this?
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