As the end of summer vacation approaches and the signs of the second semester starting become evident, we spend a relaxing day at his house. While we do have some training sessions for dealing with the demons, it’s not like we spend all our time on that. We’re sitting around the dining table, having tea time. I’ve become quite accustomed to this house over time. I know where most of the furniture is placed, as well as the locations of daily necessities. I’m grateful that I can enjoy each day, which is much more enjoyable than when I lived alone. By the way, he, the owner of this house, goes out to buy daily necessities and such. I suggested going together, but he said he’d take care of it since he’s been supporting us, and I agreed.
… It’s a secret that I thought it’s nice of him to say such things.
He’s not here right now, so we’re spending time however we like in this house…
Karen-chan is lying down on the sofa in casual attire, watching anime on her smartphone.
“Um, you’re in the way.”
With an annoyed expression, Kohaku-chan asks Karen-chan, who’s occupying the sofa.
“I’m using it now, so I won’t move.”
“If you just sit instead of lying down, there’s space for me.”
“While you’re watching anime, could you please move?”
“I’m watching a banishment scene right now, so I can’t.”
Karen-chan waves her legs like a fluttering butterfly, enjoying her laid-back time. She has a pretty messy side to her as well. She seems quite considerate around him, but when he’s not around, she ends up like this. Kohaku-chan, on the other hand, is quite composed whether he’s present or not, so they often clash…
“Last time it was the pattern of getting banished and then awakening, but this time it’s the pattern where the comrades can’t recognize the protagonist’s power.”
Ignoring her, Kohaku-chan gets a blue vein popping on her forehead and sits on Karen-chan’s back.
“Gue, so heavy!?”
“Oh, I’m sorry… TV, TV”
After a perfunctory apology, Kohaku turns on the TV with the remote control and starts watching. She has a black side to her, too.
“Heavy, heavy! You’ve gained weight again!”
This time, Kohaku-chan lies down on top of Karen-chan’s body just like a sushi roll.
“What are you doing!?”
“Sorry. It just happened.”
“What do you mean ‘just’?!”
Watching the casual flirting between the two of them lightens my heart. Now, I’m sitting at the dining table, and in front of me is Aoi-chan. She’s sipping something… wait, that’s not tea. What is she drinking?
“Aoi-chan, what are you drinking?”
“That’s quite simple.”
“Kankan Grandma from the countryside say that drinking hot water is the closest thing to bodily fluids and is really healthy, so I drink it every day.”
Who is this ‘Kankan Grandma’!? I wonder if it’s an unusual name? While saying this, she eats something like fish bone senbei.
“Aoi-chan, what are you eating?”
“Senbei made from mackerel bones.”
“That’s unusual too.”
“Kankan Grandma said that bones have a lot of calcium, so she recommended finding a way to consume them, and I made bone senbei.”
“Is it tasty?”
“It has a profound taste.”
I’m still curious about this Kankan Grandma… As she enjoys her snack, she gazes at the cactus she brought from home.
“Aoi-chan, are you into plants?”
“No, it’s not like I’m into them, but… it feels like we’ve been together for a long time, like companions. So, this cactus…”
“I see. You’ve been taking care of it for a long time.”
“Have you raised anything else?”
“Monsters and two-legged animals.”
“Eeeehhhhh!? What do you mean!?”
“I mean in a video game.”
“Oh, I see…”
That surprised me. She says such unbelievable things sometimes…
“What kind of game is it?”
“…..Uhm, give me a minute…”
Aoi-chan goes out of the room. It seems she’s getting the game.
“It’s stuffy! Don’t stick to me! Listen to Senpai!”
“Come on, we’re getting along fine, isn’t that enough?”
“You’re just trying to interfere with my precious anime time!”
They’re still being clingy with each other. Even though the air conditioning is on, it’s quite hot to be doing that on such a hot day… Well, go ahead!
“Wait a moment.”
Aoi-chan comes back with quite a large gaming setup. Is it for playing video games?
“Isn’t that quite an old one?”
“Yes, you’re right. I used to play it… but I retired for certain reasons.”
“Aah, Is that so.”
There seems to be some complicated backstory, so maybe I shouldn’t ask too much.
Aoi-chan heads toward the TV and starts setting things up.
“Is it okay to use this?”
“Of course, go ahead.”
“Would you please move, finally!”
While still on top of Karen-chan, Kohaku-chan answers. And a few minutes later…
“Well, let’s give it a try.”
Aoi-chan seems a little excited, doesn’t she? Her expression is still the same, but it feels like the corners of her mouth have lifted about 3 millimeters. I wonder what game she used to play. It might be better to just ask her instead of playing, but that would dampen the mood.
“What kind of game is this?”
“It’s surprising that Aoi plays games.”
After all the lovey-doveyness that had gone on earlier, the two of them now sat side by side on the sofa. Aoi-chan sits there a little bit. I sit down too. Aoi-chan holds the controller and operates it to change the TV screen.
The first game that appeared was… a table tennis game.
“Want to give it try?”
“Alright, I’ll give it a shot…”
It was a table tennis game titled “King of Table.” It seemed to have a storyline centered around a table tennis club aiming for a national championship. I read the instructions to get a basic understanding of the controls and then started playing.
[I win. Don’t worry, don’t worry.]
Well, I lost… and they are trash-talking a lot… This game is seriously difficult for a table tennis game, and there are special moves flying around… The enemy’s difficulty is just too high.
“Can you win this game?”
“You can. Let me have a go.”
I handed the controller to Aoi-chan, and even though she seemed to have the moves down, she easily defeated the enemy.
A KO victory… in a table tennis game… by hitting the opponent’s face with a ping pong ball.
“Uhm, is this really a table tennis game?”
“Yes, but there’s an element where you can win by hitting the opponent with a ball when their health reaches zero.”
“It’s quite an unusual game… Do you have any other games?”
“There are various games inside this box.”
The box seemed to contain discs of other games, and both Karen-chan and Kohaku-chan were interested, inspecting the contents.
“I didn’t play games much, so this is all new to me.”
“I mainly watch anime, so I don’t play games.”
“I don’t play much either… Oh, but I know this one, ‘Animal Crossing,’ right?”
“If it’s that game, I know it too.”
I took out a well-known game disc and introduced a topic. This one is so famous that pretty much everyone should know about it.
“Oh, that one…”
But before I could finish my sentence, Aoi-chan’s face darkened, and I felt like she was sinking into a gloomy atmosphere.
“That one… the data is gone… and it got completely bugged… “
“W-Why did that happen?”
Kohaku-chan asked with concern.
“I found a cheat on a ‘Wazzat’ cheat-sharing website… and when I tried it… the data got wiped out… My friends had completed various things too… It turned out to be false information…”
“Wazzat cheat-sharing website!!! What were you doing?!?”
All three of us exchanged glances, and Aoi-chan created an atmosphere like it was the end of the world. To change the topic and dispel the awkwardness, I searched through the box with game discs again, and Kohaku-chan started talking about a different game.
“This, ‘Ultra Monsters,’ right? I was quite interested in it at the time.”
“Oh, that one…”
Again, Aoi-chan had a dark expression. It seemed like there was a problem with this game too.
“That one had a cheat on ‘Wazzat’ to get an Ultra-class secret monster, and when I tried it… it ended up initializing the game… My Pokédex was filled, and so was my Animal Crossing village. Because of these two game data losses, I retired from gaming…”
“Wazzat cheat-sharing website… It’s full of misinformation!”
“Hey, are you trying to trigger a traumatic experience?”
“I-I didn’t know…”
Kohaku-chan, who had brought out the game, muttered in a low voice, and Karen-chan seemed to be scolding her.
Afterward, it took quite some time to cheer up Aoi-chan. We all played a car racing game and she seemed to enjoy it, but at some point, she stopped and muttered quietly.
“You know, I’m sorry for making everyone worry…”
“Well, you see, everyone has been so considerate of me… I’ve always been alone, so having friends and playing games with them was like a dream come true for me. That’s why I brought out those old games from the past, and I feel like I burdened everyone. So, I’m sorry.”
“What are you talking about? This isn’t a burden at all. Friends hang out and play games together, that’s normal.”
“Yeah, that’s right. Besides, I’m having fun. Let’s play some more, Senpai.”
“I’m having fun too.”
She gave a faint smile.
It might have been the first time I saw something resembling a smile from her. It was awkward and a bit stiff, but she was definitely smiling.