“So, Nijitani, let’s play GPEX as a trio!”
The day the midterm test was over. I ran into Aoyama in the hallway, and when she saw my face, she asked me to join her. I won’t go into why she called me in a friendly way.
“Actually, I have a feeling that someone I know might be coming back. I have to brush up my skills for that. He’s going to be so bad at it, I’m going to have to carry him.”
Speaking for myself, I don’t think I’m that insensitive.
The acquaintance who might be coming back is me, right?
I have no intention of going back, but somehow there seems to be a feeling in Aoyama that I might. At this rate, Aoyama might have seen me online at a dicordo.
“Oh, Nijitani-kun, you–“
Gee, Akazawa is getting closer too.
Although I’ ve been talking to Akazawa frequently lately, this is the first time I’ve been approached by her in the hallway. Of all people, she didn’t have to come to me in the middle of a conversation with Aoyama.
“O-ou …… Akazawa?”
I replied, but for some reason Akazawa was not looking at me. Akazawa’s eyes were on Aoyama.
Aoyama, on the other hand, was also looking at Akazawa, not at me.
Eh, what is this feeling?
Each side’s gaze was completely fixed on the other. The atmosphere was grim. The air around them gradually became tense.
It was clear.
Akazawa seriously dislikes Aoyama. The atmosphere was different from when she was struggling with Nekoda.
Aoyama also does not hide her disgust. It is nothing compared to when she is frustrated after losing a game.
“You know, I’m the one talking to Nijitani.”
Behind the words that flew out of Aoyama’s mouth were the words, “You are in my way.” The message is clear.
“Haa? you’re talking to Nijitani-kun?”
Behind the words that came out of Akazawa’s mouth were the words, “I’m not talking to you. Don’t interrupt me without permission.”
“I’m the one talking to him first, so I’d appreciate it if you’d refrain from doing so.”
“I don’t care. It’s Nijitani’s choice.”
“Don’t you have any common sense?”
“Huh, are we introducing ourselves?”
Glances are exchanged between the bees.
And then they clicked their tongues at each other.
No, it’s too much of a bad feeling. Even if you’re a goddess, you’re going to ruin your image if you click your tongues in the hallway without hesitation. I don’t feel like a heavenly flower at all.
I mean, did these guys not get along with each other?
I didn’t know them in middle school. I never saw them talking, and they must not have experienced being in the same class until at least the eighth grade.
Have they become less friendly since then?
In terms of type, Akazawa is a neat and tidy idol type.
Aoyama is an active athletic girl and gamer.
I don’t know the relationship between the girls, but I thought they were close since both are beautiful girls and seem to be the same goddess. And by the way, they also have the same extremely bad personality. Are not all of the top caste people friends?
After a while of glaring at each other, Akazawa turned to me.
“I just wanted to talk to him about the test, see you in class, Nijitani-kun.”
Finally, she called out to me. Apparently, she had nothing special to say.
“…… Sorry for the bad atmosphere……, Nijitani.”
When Akazawa disappeared, Aoyama mouthed an apology.
“No, I don’t mind.”
“I appreciate if you say so.”
“Well, I’ll take my leave.”
I was about to leave, but Aoyama grabbed my hand.
“So let’s play GPEX as a trio. With Natsuka in the mix.”
This is not good, this is not good.
I have to refuse.
But how should I refuse? If I say no, she will ask me why. I must avoid being conspicuous.
–Picon, then I had a flash of inspiration.
“It would be bad if you played with me or Mahiro.”
“Look, Aoyama is a goddess. That’s why I think it’s bad for Aoyama to play nice with men.”
Just reason with the goddess.
I glanced around and saw students walking around. They probably heard our conversation. Given the goddess’s brand, playing with men is a risky business.
“That’s fine, I’m friendly to everyone”
“…… Is that so?”
“Yes, I’ve had played GPEX with boys a few times before.”
This girl has always played well with guys.
She is easy to get along with, which is probably the secret to her popularity. Girls who are easy to get along with tend to be liked by boys.
So, I can’t use that as a reason. Is there any other way?
Now all I have to do is hope that the guy, Mahiro, rejects it.
“Got it, I’ll go ask Mahiro.”
The next night. I was in my room, equipped with a headset.
Mahiro, who had been my confidant, immediately responded. He smiled and said, “I’d love to play”. So we decided to play GPEX as a trio.
Yesterday was a busy day. I came home and immediately got another account, which is not a prohibited act in GPEX. I also got a new Discordo account.
I connected the voice chat.
“Sorry to keep you waiting.”
They were already waiting for me; I launched GPEX and accepted the invitation.
[“Hey, Nijitani, aren’t you an experienced person? The level is low.”]
“I just changed my account. My old account was locked up.”
[“What, like black history?”]
[“Hahaha, I know what you mean. When I look through my old games, the names of my party members are my friends’ names. It’s painful when I think about it now.”]
Especially since you were so prone to it. Whenever a male character joined your group, you named him after me. But I remember that I used to let them die in battle.
Mahiro laughed at the memory, too.
[“Well, are you ready?”]
[“I’m ready too.”]
And so it began.
To tell the truth, I was quite excited to play for the first time in a while.
I got an account last night and played right away. It was a lot of fun. I found myself searching for videos and looking forward to playing it today from noon.
[“Then, after I get down here, I’m going to start shrinking and moving around.”]
My skill level was way down. My movements faltered in places, my spotting ability dropped, and my aim was shaky.
Mahiro was similar. His movements were dazed, and he was the first to be hit in a gunfight.
As expected, Aoyama was very good. She was brilliant in both standing and shooting, and fought a good fight even with us as a hindrance.
[“…… Kuu, the first round is in 5th place. Okay, let’s move on.”]
An hour passes, then two.
I gradually regain my intuition. As we chatted, I gradually felt our relationship and collaboration growing stronger.
[“Ou, you’re getting your intuition back.”]
“How’s it going with Natsuka?”
[“It’s almost like a sightseeing trip.”]
As the cooperation strengthened, the rankings went up with a bump. Although it was not a ranked game, the tension grew as the game reached the end of the day. My hands were sweating as the words “champion” flickered across my mind.
There were only two teams left.
They were facing each other across the building. The other team had the advantage in shrinking the field. If they continued to stand at each other’s throats, they would surely lose.
[“Now what do we do?”]
“What are we going to do? Of course I’m going to rush it!”
Ignoring Aoyama who was restraining me, I moved forward with a short-range weapon.
However, it seemed that my actions had been read, and the enemy was waiting for me in ambush. I was easily beaten back in vain.
[“No, nice bait!”].
The enemy was concentrating on me, who had rushed head-on, and Aoyama and Mahiro, who had circled around the enemy, pinched them.
Mahiro’s attack didn’t hit at all, but Aoyama finished them off.
[“All right, Champion!”]
“[Yay, my first win!”]
We won our very first match.
It was very satisfying.
A sense of fulfillment enveloped my body. Time was good, so we called it a day.
Immediately after we finished the game, Mahiro was called by his parents and left. I tried to leave right away, too, but…
[“Can I talk to you for a minute?”]
“……Nothing wrong with that.”
[“Nijitani is pretty good at it. Despite the gap.”]
“Aoyama is better than me, you know.”
[“I’ve been doing this for a long time.”]
“How long have you been doing this, by the way?”
[“I think I started in earnest when I was in the third grade of junior high school. I got injured and couldn’t participate in club activities, so I focused all my energy on studying and playing games.”]
Oh, I heard you broke a bone or something.
I thought I could mention it, but it didn’t seem to make any sense, so I refrained.
“You must be good.”
[“…… You know what, let’s play together again sometime.”]
“Why me? There are better people out there.”
[“The others just did it once and decided they’d had enough. But Nijitani’s fighting style was similar to someone I know, so it suited me fine.”]
My heart leaps with a thump.
[“You were just like him, especially in the last play. The way you were calm until the middle of the game, but at the end of the game, when things got heated up, I thought you were really him. The part where you get beaten back was just like him. I laughed because I missed it so much.”]
Failure. I knew I had habits in my play. She had pointed out my fighting style before.
Back then, Aoyama agreed with my assault and followed me from behind. And we would always end up getting hit back, which was our standard pattern.
“Coincidences do happen, don’t they?”
[“You even shared the same favorite weapon.”]
“… There are quite a few people who like that weapon.”
[“Well, yes. But the way you talked was similar, too.”]
“A-and our voice?”
[“Well, your voice is definitely different. He had a higher pitch.”]
I pushed on.
I was the type of person who was slow to change my voice, and the change began at the end of eighth grade. The pitch of my voice was completely different from when I was playing with Aoyama.
[“But I feel like it’s fate that you share the same fighting style and favorite weapons. Hey, can we play together once in a while?”]
To be honest, from the middle of the game, I was having so much fun that I forgot about past events and the fact that I was playing a game with Aoyama. I just genuinely enjoyed the game.
“…… If you’re okay with trio, I don’t mind. The rest is up to Mahiro.”
With past events on my mind, I replied and cut the conversation short.