스프링필드 - 등불 아래의 여왕

Before the Griffin anniversary.
...At the command room.

(Knocking sound)
Someone is at the door of the command room.

I turn around to see Springfield smiling at me from the doorway with a stack of documents in her arms.

Commander Good morning, Springfield. Is something the matter?

Springfield walks in and puts the stack of documents onto the table.

Springfield Commander, I drafted up a mission plan for the thing I mentioned to you before.

Springfield Ah, thank you.

Commander (Flipping through the documents)
Hm...okay, I approve. I'll leave everything to you.

The mission plan is very detailed and the responsibilities of all those involved are clearly laid out.
I can see that Springfield spent a lot of effort on this plan.
As I'm flipping through page by page, I can't help but think back to when Springfield initially brought this up with me.

...A day after Griffin announced the company anniversary banquet.
Command room.

Commander Eh? Set up another party?

Springfield Well, because of the nature of the official banquet...
The Griffin T-Dolls with more of a "childlike" disposition wouldn't be invited.

Commander Indeed, as many people from the outside will be joining us.
How should I say this... It's for the sake of the company's image. This approach is probably the safest way.

Springfield Right. I wouldn't want to see the children arguing and throwing tantrums on one side and have important people looking on with distaste on the other side.

Commander ...Sigh... That scenario is way too realistic. I can imagine exactly who those would be.
But we rarely get a chance to have such a lively event, they must be very disappointed to not be able to participate.

Springfield That's right, Commander. That's why I discussed about it with everyone in the evening.
They all hope to celebrate with the Commander on this memorable day.

Commander I want to celebrate with everyone as well. After all, we rarely get a chance to.

Springfield Hehe... I'm very happy to hear that from you, Commander.
I actually bumped into Miss Kalina earlier~
She said we can go ahead with the party as long as you agree to it~

Commander Haha, just as you would expect from Springfield. You're very thoughtful.

Springfield Thank you very much for the compliment, Commander. So do you approve...?

Commander How about this. Write up a mission plan for me first to look over.

Springfield Yes, Commander. I'll prepare one immediately.

...On the day of the anniversary.

At the official banquet.

My face has become a little stiff from smiling and toasting all the guests one by one.
Just as I was looking to find a hidden corner to hide and relax, a finger suddenly pokes my face from behind me. I turn my head around instinctively yet I don't see anyone.

I turn around the other way and I find Springfield laughing like a highschool girl.

Springfield Hehe, gotcha, Commander~

Commander Where did you learn that from...

Springfield pulls me aside to a corner. She stretches a bit and looks more animated now, unlike the other T-Dolls at the banquet.
Only now do I get the chance to take a good look at her attire, and she looks elegant and gentle as always.

Commander Springfield, you are very beautiful today.

Springfield R-really...? Do I look that different today?
....Where are you looking at, Commander?

Commander I didn't think that there would be a moment where even someone like you would be looking so fatigued.

Springfield Eh? You can...tell?
(Whisper) You're the only one that can...

Commander You haven't gotten a chance to rest this evening yet?

Springfield I can't relax on such an official occasion.
Although I am a bit tired.

Commander Why don't you head back and get some rest?

Springfield Thank you, Commander, but I think I'll stay until the end.
If I leave before the banquet is over, the other T-Dolls that are here might get concerned.

Commander Ah, sorry, I didn't consider that. Springfield, you really are a gentle Doll.

Springfield No no, you don't need to apologize, Commander. It's not your fault.
I actually feel quite refreshed being able to just chat with you.

Commander Me too. I feel a lot more relaxed being able to talk with you like this.

Springfield Hehe... Being able to stay by your side like this is enough for us T-Dolls, Commander.

Commander Eh? Why are you bringing this up out of the blue~?

Springfield It's-it's not out of the blue at all...
We've always wanted to tell you, but we never had the right opportunity.
Everyone else and I have been very happy this past year, and I hope the upcoming year will be the same as well. Let's continue to do our best, Commander.

Springfield smiles brightly. It feels as if my fatigue this entire evening has been blown away in this instance.
I find myself unsure of what to say and stare blankly at Springfield.

Springfield (Red face)
...Commander?

Commander Ah? Ah, yes, uh...

Springfield Well, Commander, I have to get back to entertaining the guests.

Commander Alright, careful not to wear yourself out.

Springfield I'll be careful.
Also, you must not forget about the party later tonight!

Commander Yes, I'll be there for sure. I promised everyone.

Springfield I'll see you later then, Commander.

Springfield smiles at me and gives me a small bow and returns to the banquet.
Even within the group of T-Dolls wearing elegant dresses, her beauty is distinguishing in a gentle and delicate way.
The words that I couldn't say to her earlier, I think I'll find an opportunity to tell her at the party later tonight. That's what I've decided as I look up at the clock on the wall.
Everyone has worked hard, and I'm also very happy to have spent the past year with all the Dolls here.

Commander I'll be counting on you for the upcoming year as well, Springfield.