Chapter 8:


Game Gyaru

“Of course you guys would bring me here.” Shiuka’s presence was one of the worst things for him to see here. Though it wasn’t the worst thing about being brought into this arcade. That honor would have to go to the fact that all the girls here were gyarus. Not to mention a fair bit of the boys here were similar to the girls in that fashion. “I hate the town I live in.”

“Lighten up.” Itsuki patted him on the back hard. “It’s not like you have to talk to any of them. If you want, you could just stick to yourself and play some of the games here.”

“I came here for you guys.” He replied, a bit frustrated with how things had turned out. However, they were still in an arcade, so it was still possible to have some fun around here. “Whatever, go chat up whatever girls you want to. I’ll stick around.” As much as the boy really didn’t want to, it was better than appearing like some loner all by himself here.

So they went deeper inside. While he wasn’t a fan of being a part of his friend’s attempts to getting closer to some girls. Hakuta wasn’t against trying to have some fun with his buddies. They were guys who were with him since they were very little, and admittedly trying to get dates was a part of growing up. Even if he had no desire in attempting that for now. Not only that, but his situation wasn’t favorable for doing so anyway. Obviously if he were to get a girlfriend, they’d eventually want to know where he lived. Telling them he lived with another girl would’ve meant an instant breakup.

The only possible girl he could date that wouldn’t break up with him for that reason would be Shiuka. Since she was the girl he lived with, but there was no possible instance where he could envision that ever occurring.

Sadly for him, his friends were interested in the group she was a part of. Most likely because they were all classmates, so there was an in for the boys. Since he happened to live with the girl, one could view that as another possible in. However, in practice that was more of a detriment than anything else.

“It’s funny running into you all.” Now the time had come for the boys to make their move. Yuusen led the charge to try and ensure they appeared inconspicuous to the gyaru trio. They decided to use the fact they were all classmates with one another to give a reason to approach. “Do you all come here often?”

“Not really.” Shiuka was the one to respond to them first. “Usually we’re out singing karaoke.” Hakuta assumed that included hanging around some untrustworthy boys from another school, but he kept his mouth shut. As much as he might take issue with the way these girls acted, his friends were trying their best to socialize. So he wasn’t going to get in their way. “It’ cool you guys came over to talk to us. I saw Yamamoto when you came in.”

“Eh, really?” Itsuki glanced over the boy. Meanwhile, Hakuta was internally sighing from her making such a statement. The only reason she took note of him was because they lived together, because why else would she even bother pay attention to him otherwise? “Looks like you’ve got someone’s attention.” This also drew some teasing from his bigger friend as he got a bit of a nudge.

“Not that I care about that.” He looked away from the girl, only giving her his sideeye. This was his signal to her that she needed to be more careful to not tip them off to their relationship. Of course, she shot a look back basically complaining as to why he allowed himself to be with his friends and let them come to her group of friends. At the end of the day, this was going to be an awkward encounter to the pair.

“Anyway, since we’re all here. How about we play some games together?” Yuusen returned to his attempts at getting the groups to merge by using the excuse of some fun times ahead.

“Hmm, that does sound a bit interesting.” Ninka responded positively to his statement. This only served to unnerve Hakuta as he was aware she wasn’t single. They all should’ve been aware of that from the start. Now to him, this was a red flag that they shouldn’t trust this girl for anything romantic or anything at all for that matter. Then again, it also served to drive a small wedge between him and Yuusen, as the latter seemed fine with getting between a relationship. “Maybe we should.”

“That sounds like tons of fun.” Said Rouko. She was giddy with joy, but that did not blind her to one specific detail. “But, Yamamoto doesn’t seem to agree.”

“I’m fine with this.” He wasn’t, but there was no reason for him to keep his friends from being happy.

“Now this won’t do at all.” However, the girl wasn’t willing to accept him being just fine with the matter. She couldn’t resist from making some fun with a gloomy boy like him. You need to be as excited as all of us. So how about you give us a smile?”

“Yeah.” Of course Shiuka was willing to egg this on. “If you don’t, then we won’t hang out with all of you.” For a moment, he was certain this was her plan to prevent them from having to spend time together. That was smart, as then they could maintain an easier time of hiding their secret.

“Come on, just smile for them.” However, his friends weren’t going to allow him to worm out of this one so easily. Both Itsuki and Yuusen encouraged him to do as the girl asked. Of course, the girls were also cheering him on, Shiuka included, which meant she had no such plan after all.

“Fine.” He relented to peer pressure from these groups. Mark another reason to feel the way he did, as those around him just kept making him do things he didn’t want to do. So, with a poor attempt, he smiled for them. It looked awkward and wry as he gave them all a look of his smiling face. “There, happy?”

“Um, sure?” The girls weren’t sure what to make of his face, but the boys were glad he went along and allowed them to join them.

“So what games were you planning on playing?” Hakuta asked as they explored the arcade. There were plenty of games for them to enjoy. Fighting games were exciting for some competition. Those shooters gave a different direction by relying on teamwork. And anyone could play the racing games with little challenge regardless of skill.

“Since I was sick yesterday.” Shiuka spoke up first yet again. “The girls wanted to play my favorite.” It was weird for him to view her as having a favorite game. Especially since she had no care for the game consoles her father bought her. However, to be fair, home consoles were a different experience from playing on an arcade cabinet. “So we’re going to be playing ‘Way of the Fruit’!” She was super excited to be able to give it another play again.

The game itself was rather involved for an arcade machine. In a sense, it was like virtual reality game where two people competed against one another in a match that resembled kendo, a martial art. The difference being they weren’t combating against each other in direct combat. As the name would suggest, they would be cutting up fruit before them in a virtual environment. The winner being the one who cut up the most fruit. There was also a co-op mode, but who cared about that. “Just to let you know, I’m totally the best at this game.”

“Yeah, neither of us have ever beaten her before.” Said Ninka, confirming the status of this girl.

“Somehow I doubt that.” Only one person disagreed with that assessment. And that was Hakuta. “Because last time I checked, I’m the best.” Just like with this girl, he had never tasted defeat before every time he had played with his friends.

“Are you saying that you’re, like, better than me?” Her demeanor changed upon hearing his bragging. The way Shiuka looked at him meant something.

“That’s, like, exactly what I’m saying.” Mocking her mannerisms, his response was filled with confidence. “I’d even play against if you want proof.”

“Oh, that’s exactly what we’re doing right now.” Before anyone else had even thought of trying to think of a plan to match. The two were already paying for the machine and getting their gear on. For them, a lot of pride was on the line.

“Lucky him.” Itsuki commented as they got the game started up. This wasn’t the most popular game in the arcade considering the requirement of multiple people to use it. First off, it was a multiplayer game which required two people. Then the latter part of needing a third party to select the game mode and difficulty meant one couldn’t play this on their own, and that couple couldn’t use this if they were on a date.

“Hardest difficulty, no less.” Hakuta said after he and Shiuka put on the headgear. He was confident this girl and her friends only played on the simpler modes. There was no way she could keep up with him.

“That’s just how I like it.” She responded to his statement. The pair stood back-to-back as they readied themselves, physically and mentally for the competition of their lifetime.

“All right, ready?” Itsuki asked, which prompted the pair to nod their heads in affirmation. “Great, then set and...Whoops I accidentally picked co-op.”

“What!?” They both replied in unison. With barely any time to realize they were no longer battling against each other, fruit began to fall around them. This was also a large machine, which involved a screen that circled around in 360 degrees for the crowd to be able to watch. Since this was a co-op challenge, rather than a competition, it seemed to gather some people to want to watch it.

“This seems a bit easy.” Hakuta commented as he cut through some fruit on his side. She was doing the same thing as they went about in a steady rhythm. How was this on the hardest difficulty? Or perhaps his dumb friend pushed the wrong button and gave them the easiest to really make this boring for them.

“You’re right.” She replied. “It a little too easy.” He was unsure as to why she was under the suspicious that something was coming up. Until that is, when something did come up.

“Eh? Fruit monsters?” He had never seen these designs before. Then again, he had never played on co-op before, and neither did she. So to them, this was a new experience, especially on max difficulty. This was like a completely different game when done in a cooperative mode instead of PvP.

Suddenly, one of the creatures attacked him and got a hit in. For a second, his heart stopped from the fear until realizing that this was just a game. When in VR, this all seemed much more real. Worse still, he had lost one of their collective hearts out of three. “Sorry about that.” He remarked to her as he regained senses and showed off why he considered himself the best.

The pair showed themselves how skilled they were to everyone, which didn’t just include their friends. Instead, a crowd had begun to gather as the two were nearing the endgame. For some reason, despite being watched on by a bunch of strangers while playing with a girl he supposedly hated. Hakuta was feeling something within.

“Watch out for that big one.” He yelled out, dodging.

“Huh?” She was late in hearing him, which resulted in her taking a hit from what seemed to be the boss. “Hey! A little quicker warning would’ve been nice.” Shiuka complained to him.

“Not my fault you’re too slow.” He retorted, then charged in and attacked the boss. No effect? The monster was about to hit him with a sweeping attack that would’ve ended their run, but fortunately Shiuka jumped onto him and they were able to dodge together. “This isn’t good.” He commented as she laid on top of him.

“If our regular attacks do nothing, what should we do?” She asked, the pair were oddly close in the way they laid. Yet neither of them seemed to notice as there was something much more important.

“…” It only took one moment of thinking for both of them to come up with a plan.

“Combination!” The pair spoke in unison. Getting back onto their feet, they both came towards the beast in a combined effort. Hakuta took the left, and Shiuka ran to the right as they attacked the beast with all their might. “X-slash!” The two continued in their perfect sync as they struck the fruit monster with their combo attack. With this, they became the only pair ever to have completed the game on it’s most challenging difficulty.

The audience that had grown to ridiculous size cheered in excitement as they collapsed onto the floor. The two were exhausted from a challenge neither of them had ever been put through before.

“I guess this was… More fun than I expected.” Hakuta said as he tried to collect his breath. Looking over at the girl, he notice her not saying anything. Instead, the only thing needed to show her feelings were here putting up one hand to him. Knowing exactly what to do, he met her as they shared a high-five. 

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