On a certain day, Aoi-chan was sitting on the sofa at his home, playing a game on her smartphone. Kohaku-chan, Karen-chan, and I were peeking in and observing. It seemed to be some kind of shooting game on the phone, and…
“Aoi-senpai, you’re amazing, aren’t you?”
“Am I? Ehehe…”
Her finger movements were so smooth, and she was like the goddess of judgment, sniping targets from hundreds of meters away.
“Gabatta? What does that mean?”
“It’s like when the crosshairs are off target…”
“Aoi, you’ve been playing games a lot lately.”
“Yeah, I started playing gacha games, even though I’m free-to-play.”
“Do you spend money on gacha?”
“Well… gacha games are a rabbit hole… I’m considering it.”
“I’ve heard gacha games can be quite addictive.”
“Yeah, but because of players who do spend money, I can enjoy playing as a free-to-play. Grateful and excited, I’ll continue to play.”
Kohaku-chan and Karen-chan asked Aoi-chan questions while watching her play, and she answered them in between her intense gaming sessions.
“Y-you’re amazing, Aoi…”
She ended up taking the first place without much effort. She was incredible, but we were all talking about it. Then, Aoi-chan suggested that we all play a game together.
“I want to play a game together…”
“That sounds great. Let’s do it. Actually, I’m interested in the legendary ‘Uratarou’ game.”
“You mean ‘Uraten’?”
“Yes. Let’s play it together!”
So, we decided to play a video game together (the four of us). He was out shopping, and Mel-chan was holed up in the lab, so it was a showdown between the four of us. We thought it would be fun, but…
“Hey! Could you please stop passing Bomber-sama only to me!?”
“Why are you lying? It happened by chance!”
“Lying? How could you not pass that to Moegi from that distance!?”
Our total assets were: Aoi-chan, with over 10 billion; Kohaku-chan and Karen-chan, stuck in a struggle at the bottom, fighting over Bomber-sama. Things got chaotic, so we decided to change the game.
“Maybe we should have chosen a cooperative game after all…”
“Hear you loud and clear.”
“Kohaku, let’s avoid any arguments this time.”
“I understand. Let’s do our best together.”
Yeah, it’s better to play games where we all work toward a common goal, right? That’s what I thought as I controlled the character on the TV screen, aiming to clear the stage. However, things didn’t go as planned.
When Kohaku-chan’s character tried to jump over a hole, coincidentally, Karen-chan’s character was trying to do the same thing, and Karen-chan accidentally stepped on Kohaku-chan’s character, causing Kohaku-chan to lose the game.
“Ah sorry… that wasn’t intentional.”
“That wasn’t intentional? So, you mean the previous one was intentional?”
“No, I’m really sorry… I’ll be more careful next time.”
“Of course, you better be!”
She said it with a smile, but in the next scene, she deliberately stomped on an enemy turtle and threw it at Karen-chan.
“What the heck!?”
“Oh, sorry. My hand slipped.”
“No way, you clearly didn’t slip this time!”
“It was just a coincidence, I promise!”
“Well, with that, we’ve wrapped up the game for now.”
“Sorry about making it a bit weird. I just thought it’d be fun since I wanted to play with everyone.”
“No need to apologize. It was still enjoyable. Let’s do it again sometime, and this time, invite Izayoi and Mel too.”
“Really? Did you enjoy it?”
“That’s a silly question. Kohaku and Moegi both had fun, right?”
“Yes! It was a lot of fun!”
With that, we concluded our gaming session quite well. Then, Aoi-chan brought up another topic.
“Speaking of which, Christmas is coming up soon.”
“Yeah, that’s right. Christmas… dates, gift exchanges, parties, it’s all so exciting!”
“Magical Academy Underachievers’ volume 23 with a special drama CD is also coming out for Christmas. I’m looking forward to it.”
“And don’t forget to make reservations for cake when Christmas comes!”
Indeed, Christmas is almost here. Even at school, the topic of conversation is starting to flicker up as we get closer to Christmas. As I was getting excited about this discussion, a bit like a girls’ night out, …… Aoi-chan dropped another bomb.
“By the way, what should I ask Santa for this year?”
Wait a second, all three of us exchanged glances. We knew she was pure, of course. She was a high school girl, and this year, she was… 17 years old?
“Uhm, Aoi-senpai, what do you mean by ‘Santa’?”
“Eh? I mean exactly what it sounds like. Santa Claus delivers presents to children all over the world every year. That’s what I mean.”
“Uh, Santa Claus is… you see…”
“No, never mind.”
“Is that so? Well, I have to find some stationery to write a letter then.”
Aoi-chan left the room, and we began our discussion.
“What should we do about this?”
“Well, perhaps, as friends, we should support her in these matters.”
“That’s right. Sometimes, a firm word might be necessary.”
“I agree. So, maybe us three…”
“”Nope, this is a task for the underclassman.””
“Eeeh?! Why all of a sudden!?”
It seemed Karen-chan shared my opinion, and there was a reason for that. Aoi-chan was so pure that it was difficult to talk to her about certain things.
Even at home, we noticed this about her, but it was especially apparent in the classroom. During our last break, Aoi-chan approached our seats with a worried expression.
[Karen, is it okay if I discuss something with you? It’s the most ridiculous problem I’ve ever had…]
[Hmm? What’s wrong?]
[Uhm… well… ugh… Utsu…’
[What?! Wait, why are you crying all of a sudden!?]
She started crying out of nowhere, so we consoled her while listening to her story.
[Just now, I received a weird message, and it said that unless I forward it to more than ten people, I’ll be cursed. But I don’t want to spread it to everyone, and I don’t know what to do.]
[It’s okay. I’ve had a similar experience before.]
[Yeah. If it’s still scary, you can send that message to me. If we do it together, it’ll be less of a burden, right?]
[Thank you. But I really don’t want to send such a message…]
She was distressed by the idea of chain emails and felt caught between her desire not to spread them and not to be cursed. But that wasn’t the end of it. The next day…
[When I pressed ‘Read more comments,’ it said I have to subscribe to the channel, or else I’ll be cursed tonight… sniffle…]
[It’s okay. Just a lie, it won’t do anything. I’ve received those kinds of things many times, but I ignored them all.]
[Yeah, those things happen sometimes, but nothing will actually happen.]
[I’m so glad… I didn’t want to subscribe to the channel…]
Aoi-chan’s purity and innocence were truly remarkable. Her eyes sparkled with clarity. If she looked sad after saying such things, I wouldn’t be able to say anything to her. However, I also wanted Aoi-chan to understand things better. So, in the end, it seemed like the responsibility would fall on Kohaku-chan.
“Um, this is something for the three of us to…”
“No, I want Kohaku to handle this. Yeah.”
“Wait, uh, we should all work together on this!”
“I’ll support you. Go for it, reliable Kohaku!”
“I’ll also keep an eye on you warmly from behind! Reliable Kohaku-chan!”
‘Ah, no matter what, these guys are determined to push everything onto me’ she said with a look. Then, she puffed her cheeks a bit and tucked her hair behind her ear, changing the atmosphere. The atmosphere changed all at once, and I was quite surprised. She went from being cute to always appearing as a mature and seductive woman.”
“Ahem, well, um, I don’t want to do this alone. Senpais, won’t you help me, too?”
She placed both hands on her chest and tilted her head, her eyes wider than usual, her tone of voice changing to a more affectionate one. It resonated deep in the nerves, making it seem as though our spines were tingling.
“I created the atmosphere from the cough onwards… I don’t want to say this, but it’s cute… You cunning …”
‘It’s not fair. underclassmen are so ……”
“…I also think that Senpais who try to push things onto a single underclassman are cunning…”
With that said, Aoi-chan took an envelope meant for Santa and returned to the living room. Purely, she said,
“Let’s all write together.”
“Ah, y-yeah. Before that… um…we wan’t to say something, right!? Karen-senpai!?”
“Huh, me!? …Um, you know, how does Santa Claus bring us those presents?”
Karen-chan seemed to be trying to steer the conversation in a less confrontational direction.
“You send letters to the North Pole, and then Santa Claus splits himself into multiple versions to check all the letters. He places orders at the toy factory on Mars, and then, along with his split selves, he delivers the gifts all over the world…”
“Oh, it sounds quite aggressive, doesn’t it?”
“That’s what my grandma told me.”
“I see… Well, you know, Santa Claus is…”
“Karen, are you going to write a letter too?”
She looked at Karen-chan with innocent eyes. I could tell what was going on. Karen-chan must be struggling right now. To speak or not to speak. Nowadays, there probably weren’t any high school girls who believed in Santa Claus. Honestly, if this got out, she might be ridiculed. That’s what we were concerned about.
But she couldn’t say it. She didn’t know if she should or could say it to such an innocent girl… As we were pondering this, the door to the living room opened.
“Ah, I’m back from shopping…”
“Welcome back. Kuro, are you writing a letter to Santa too?”
She asked him, and the three of us concentrated, not knowing what would happen next. Would he say something, would he go along with it? We didn’t know the answer. What would he do?
He had a thoughtful expression for a moment…
With a cheerful response, he began writing. He put down the shopping bags and wrote together with her. I didn’t know if this was the right decision, but I felt like maybe it was better to say it. I was worried she might be made fun of by others.
“I’m going to take a bath now.”
When Aoi-chan headed to the bath, Kohaku-chan asked him. Karen-chan was also curious, and I was too, so the four of us sat down at the dining table.
“Uhm, Izayoi-kun… Was it okay to talk about Santa like that?”
“To be honest, I was thinking of saying that Santa doesn’t exist.”
“Is that so?”
“Yeah, because I thought Aoi-senpai might be the only one in the whole world who genuinely believes. It’s kind of ridiculous for a high school student to believe in Santa, so I thought it might be better to say it. But… the most enjoyable time is when you’re dreaming. No matter what kind of dream it is, it’s the most fun while you’re dreaming. I’m sure someday you’ll wake up, but until then, I want her to believe in her dreams. If there’s anyone who makes fun of her for it, I will punch them. I just want to make sure she never feels ridiculed…”
“But maybe it would have been better to say it. Honestly, I think I would have said it. But when I saw Aoi-senpai’s eyes, it reminded me of the past, and I wanted her to keep dreaming those sparkling dreams. Until the day she wakes up.”
“Did I go a bit too overboard with that? Oh, embarrassing!! Is this what they call chuunibyou for someone like me who still can’t fully wake up from my dreams? Well, no, I mean…”
“I think it’s very admirable, Izayoi-kun, the way you think…”
“Oh, thank you. But it’s not like my way is the right answer… I think it’s also not wrong to say that it might be better to speak up… So, yeah, it’s a bit complicated. What should I say…”
“Yeah, both ways seem right… That’s why it’s difficult…”
“It’s deep… I feel like a new perspective has been born within me.”
It felt like we were given proper support. I wonder if he also heard our conversation, or maybe it was just a coincidence since he came back earlier…
“Izayoi is really a straightforward and unpretentious person. Well, I don’t dislike that about you…”
“Muu, I like that about myself too!”
I also… like that about him… No, what am I thinking? I’m fine with being here. As long as everyone is happy, that’s all that matters. I’m here thanks to everyone, and just being here and enjoying it is thanks to them.
I’ve received so much already. So, I should hold back… I should prioritize everyone…