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Chapter 94 – A Lonely Person

 

(Mai’s PoV (Maria’s IRL name))

“I’m nervous…” Oda said while trembling. Miss Ichijouji suggested that we meet up after the battle, but we’re really scared of what she’s going to tell us…

I laughed to hide my feeling though, “You get scared really easily, Oda.”

“… Mai, your voice is shaking.” He replied.

It can’t be helped! I already get nervous from just talking to her, but what if she criticizes what we did!? How can I endure that!? I’m about to puke right now…

“Oh, you’re here already.” Miss Ichijouji said as she arrived. We both turned around immediately when we heard her voice from behind us… To think she’d arrive at such a timing, I’m sweating cold right now…

“Sorry for the trouble we caused!” Both me and Oda said at the same time while bowing down to her.

“Sorry for what?” She asked us.

“Eh?” We were both confused. She wasn’t angry? I was in a good mood because she called us, but I was sure it was to scold us.

“Rather than that, you may have lost, but your surprise was still quite interesting, so I’m going to listen to your requests.” She told us.

“… Seriously!?” We both exclaimed in unison once again. She didn’t reply, but instead just tilted her head to the side, she’s so cute… Wait, stop! This is dangerous! I need to be more self-aware and behave naturally! I can’t let her notice how much I stare at her!

“… So, is there anything you want me to do?” She asked us as we stayed silent for a bit too long. She also tilted her head to the side again when she said this and I almost fainted from the cuteness. Is she even aware of how much destructive power she has?

“Ah, right… If it’s not too much trouble, it would be nice if you could come with me in a Verification.” Oda asked her.

“A verification…? You mean the thing you do to learn about more details about the game? I don’t know if I’ll be very useful, but I don’t mind it.” Miss Ichijouji replied.

“Thank you very much!” Oda said while bowing… That worm, we said we’d play together again, but now he is skipping ahead? I’m gonna burn him…

“What about you, Maria?” Miss Ichijouji asked me.

“Ah! Well…” What do I ask!? Should I just ask her to be friends with me!?

“Hey hey, Maria, what are you going to ask her?” Oda said with a particularly annoying tone.

“Uhn…” I’m so going to kill him later. He knows I’m bad at this and he is making things worse!?

“… Weren’t you just going to ask to be friends?” He whispered to me.

“We-well, kinda…” I replied softly.

“Is there a problem?” Miss Ichijouji asked.

It’s just… I just want to… to… “Oda! You’re in the way, leave first!” I told him.

“W-why!?” He was clearly surprised.

Well, it’s just… embarrassing. It would be troublesome if Oda was here…

“Is it hard to say it if Yuu is here?” Miss Ichijouji asked.

“M-Maria, you aren’t going to…?” Oda left the end of his question unfinished, but I knew what he meant.

“No! It’s hard to say it, but it’s not what you’re thinking!” I replied right away.

Meanwhile, miss Ichijouji tilted her head cutely at our exchange. She really needs to be more aware of how dangerous she is!

“A-anyways, Oda, leave for a while!” I told him.

“I got it, I got it.” He left while grinning… This bastard of a pig! What’s up with this grin!?

“So? What is your request?” Miss Ichijouji asked me once Oda left.

“Well…” Alright, I can do it! I really really want to be friends with her, but I’m also worried, so… So this is more important! It can’t be helped! I’m definitely not trying to fulfill my own desires! “K-k-k-k-knees mine please on lay!” I stuttered! I stuttered horribly and totally messed up my sentence! I must look like a total pervert now! It’s over, she will surely go away from me now!

“Sure, I don’t mind it much…” She seemed to be a bit reluctant, but she was okay with it?

“Re-really!? It’s really alright!?” I asked just to be sure.

“Y-yeah…” She replied… Calm down, me! Calm down! She is just getting more confused by this kind of eager question!

I took a deep breath, then slowly and calmly sat on the base of a tree and lightly tapped my lap…. Miss Ichijouji followed suit and laid her head in it… This is bad, I’m going to have a nosebleed like this…

“I-is it okay if I caress your head?” I asked her.

“… Go ahead.” She replied.

Wow, this feels great! Even though we’re still in the game, I’m feeling so good that my heart is about to explode… Miss Ichijouji is truly a goddess…

“I suppose that, even though Yuu is your friend, this request really is something you wouldn’t want him to be around for.” Miss Ichijouji suddenly said.

I tried laughing a bit to hide my embarrassment, “I-I was glad he was here at first, but it really was a bit too much for him to stay…” Also, miss Ichijouji seemed to be in a bad mood these past few days. I looked back at all the footages of her ‘playing’ as the Genocider, and she was always smiling at those times… And yet, she seemed to have no fun at all ever since she got close to the princess and her maid… I wanted to do something more for her, and I couldn’t have Yuu here to get in the way.

“Could this be related to the fact you’re always staring at me?” Miss Ichijouji suddenly dropped a bomb.

“Eh!?” I could not make any other reply…

“Perhaps you weren’t aware of it yourself?” She asked me… No, I was plenty aware of it, I just never thought she noticed me doing my duty as her guardian…

“Well, about that… I’m sorry.” I couldn’t say much more than that now, could I?

“It’s alright, I didn’t mind it.” She forgave me! Yes! It’s my victory!

… This is not a situation where I should be messing around, what a shameful behavior I’m displaying…

“I only noticed that you were the person that always stared at me recently by the way, but… Why did you do it?” She asked.

“Well, that’s because… because I wanted to be friends.” It was not a lie. I have always wanted to grow closer to her, but never knew how to approach her, so the gap between us just remained the same no matter how much time passed…

“Shouldn’t you have requested that now, then?” She asked after hearing my reply.

“Well, it certainly was a good opportunity…” However, I still want to do more.

“… Why did you want to get along with me of all people?” She asked this next.

“It’s just that… Miss Ichijouji is a wonderful person.” Sure, she may be a little… Very dangerous, but that didn’t change the essence of who she was, I just found out a new side to her through the game.

I decided I should try telling her a bit about myself to make things a bit clearer, “You know, I’m not that interested in the people in my surroundings. I thought it would be fine if people just thought of me as a blur that easily blended in with the background.” I don’t even remember the name of my classmates, I don’t know the current trends, and even when I’m talking to Oda, I’ll just cut him off if he gets boring.

Miss Ichijouji didn’t reply, so I continued, “But while I felt like this, you were different. You were constantly observing your surroundings and trying to blend in with them… I thought that was really cute of you.” It was cute to see how she desperately observed and tried to imitate others even though she clearly wasn’t interested in them at all…

I wondered if this was because she was trying to hide how much she enjoyed ‘playing’ as a Genocider, she wouldn’t be able to live properly if she behaved like that in the real world after all… Maybe this was a mechanism of self-defense of hers, or maybe this was a request of someone that was very important to her, as she wouldn’t pay attention to other people’s opinion of her otherwise.

“You took my interest when I realized that even though you didn’t care for other people, you still paid quite a bit of attention to them. This strange contradiction attracted me.” It was impressive even, to constantly look at those you didn’t care about, “And you know… I also always felt extremely lonely… And your presence, the feeling of having someone so similar yet so different nearby, it always soothed me, I always wanted to get closer to you.”

She still hadn’t replied, but that was alright. All that I needed, was for her to know, to know that I was paying attention. That even though I was this lonely, there was no way I could let her also be plagued by this horrible loneliness, “I don’t know what happened to you, and I won’t ask… but I realized you were in a bad mood recently. Because miss Ichijouji was looking extremely lonely too… Because miss Ichijouji did not seem to be having fun while ‘playing’ anymore…”

After a while of silence, she finally gave her first reply, “Is that so?”

It was. That’s why me and Oda put our utmost into getting you to smile again, to entertain you, to let you have fun again.

While I gently stroke her hair, my true intentions ended up coming out on their own, “How was it? Forgetting whatever was bothering you for a while and to just enjoy ‘playing’ with us?”

“… Thank you for that.” She answered.

“I’m glad you enjoyed it.” The smile she gave me just now made all that work definitely worth it. Even a total otaku like me can make miss Ichijouji happy if I try. This wonderful feeling, I’ll cherish it, “Let’s ‘play’ again sometime.”

“Let’s. With Yuu too of course.” Why mention Yuu!? Why here and now!? Is the privilege of first friend that strong!?

While thinking of something silly like that, I spent some quiet time with miss Ichijouji.

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