Chapter 21:

No Longer With us

Game Gyaru

Finally, Hakuta and Shiuka were out of the trap known as home. Now that was out of the way, they could be a bit more relaxed as everyone walked about town. Though this was a new feeling for him. The boy wasn’t used to just going about outside without a goal in mind.

She, on the other hand, was much more in her element. So this was apparently what she did with her friends when they were out while he was still inside playing video games. Admittedly, the boy couldn’t see the appeal of it. Just seemed like a waste of time when one could at least get some achievements on their game console.

“So, like, where should we go?” Shiuka asked. This was a question directed towards Rouko, seeing as that was the girl who practically uprooted the group from the house. “Actually, I’m starving.” Though, she pretty much gave up on asking immediately and brought up her own suggestion.

“After all those snacks and you still have an appetite for more.” He quipped. Hakuta was truly grateful it was her father’s money she used on all that food instead of his. Also, how did this girl keep that slim figure of hers? The others didn’t seem to eat as much, but Ninka appeared to be much bigger than her.

“How about we go to the usual?” Speaking of, said girl ignored his statement and told them where their next location was. “I’m in the mood for Yakisoba.”

“Yay!” Rouko cheered upon hearing the suggestion and jumped for joy. Without any input from the boys, it seemed these girls were the ones who directed their outing for today. Not that the others sans Hakuta were against it.

“I hope you’re not upset with this.” Said Yuusen as they walked inside. “It must feel weird being the thir… Er, seventh wheel on our group.”

“Yeah, that’s why we didn’t want to invite you in the first place.” Itsuku followed up.

“What are you talking about?” He was confused by their statements. The boy didn’t feel left out at all. In fact, he was certain he even did more talking than Ninka’s boyfriend. Had that guy even spoken a line yet? “I’m having a great time.” However, that statement rung true. It was weird, never once in his life did he consider playing a video game surrounded by people that were considered his friends could be so fun. Maybe that was the allure of party games, even if that wasn’t what they were playing.

“That’s great buddy.” Itsuku grinned widely and gave his friend a major pat on the back. “Anyway, you don’t mind if you don’t sit with any of the girls, do you?”

“Go right ahead.” It was clear to him that his friends were still interested in trying to chat up and potentially flirt with Rouko and Shiuka. At the moment, Ninka was off-limits, though there was no way Hakuta would ever consider trying to flirt with her of all people. He already wouldn’t even flirt with any girls in the first place.

So that left their seating arrangement with him between his friends. Meanwhile, everyone else was paired off with someone else. Ninka was with the obvious, Yuusen sat with Shiuka, and finally Itsuku sat with Rouko.

Everyone ordered pretty much the same food, as insisted by Shiuka. That girl was quite adamant they take her advice and try out what she considered to be the best meal on the planet. Hakuta doubted that assessment greatly. Not because she was the type to exaggerate, but that he had been burned countless times from reviews making the same statement about multiple games that turned out to be disappointments for him.

Everyone around him seemed to shift moods a bit after their orders were placed. It seemed to him that the boys decided it was time to lay on some smooth moves. This was probably what his friends meant by him seventh wheeling, but it didn’t bother him one bit to be left out. All that meant was he could focus solely on enjoying the bowl of noodles and beef she recommended. While she may have overrated the food, it was truly delicious.

However, while eating, he couldn’t help but have his eyes wander around. They were directed towards one person in specific, Shiuka. His friend, Yuusen was attempting to make some moves towards her and he couldn’t help but check out how things were going there.

“So, did you enjoy the game?” He asked her, performing what was known as an icebreaker. Hakuta could never think of a way to make conversations start naturally, so he settled with just talking.

“Of course, I love how cute those little spacemen look.” She gushed about the art style. Easily, this gave the boy an opening.

“Oh, but they’re not as cute as you.” It was a decent line to her. She even giggled shyly and turned from him in response. Hakuta was rooting for his friend. Even if they annoyed him to nearly no end sometimes, they were dudes who grew up with him. Of course he’d want them to be happy.

Yet at the same time, something else was stirring in his heart as he watched their interaction. For some reason, there was this sense of tightness around his heart. Did he not like what he was seeing? That didn’t make any sense, why would he be against a couple of his friends getting together.

But despite his mind saying he wanted his friend to be happy. His body preferred a different outcome to this conversation. The way his heart beat wished for her to politely reject him. “Are you busy on Sunday?” There it was, he had come in for asking for a date.

“Well, not really.” She admitted. Something about her answer had him staring right at Shiuka. It was fortunate no one seemed to notice, or else they’d call him out for his strange behavior. “But if you want a date… Sorry, but I’m not interested.” That came as a shock to him and more importantly, Yuusen. Their conversation was flowing well, so why would she reject him?

“I… See.” It was a good thing the only person to see this painful rejection was Hakuta. When things were over today, he was going to make sure to message his friend to comfort him later.

“You’re a nice person, but I’m not looking for anyone right now.” She explained herself. Now that he thought about it, did she reject him because of their living situation? It certainly would be problematic if those two were in a relationship. Yuusen would definitely want to come over to her house and there would be no way for him to avoid getting in their way if he continued to live there.

That thought dampened his mood. While his heart now beat normally, happy with the sight of seeing the rejection. It meant nothing if she only turned down that boy because of circumstance. What if she… Truly liked Yuusen? Then, he got in the way of her own happiness.

“I’m sorry…” He muttered under his breath. Other than that event, lunch with all their friends went by fairly normally. It was unknown how Itsuku did with attempting to woo Rouko, but they’d likely be finding out about that soon enough.

After they had finished eating, it seemed like a good time for people to go their separate ways. To not seem suspicious, Hakuta headed towards a completely different direction from Shiuka. Even if they had the same destination in mind, there was no way they’d allow anyone to find out about that. So he headed towards where it would be expected of him to go to his house.

This led to him walked in a similar direction as that of Ninka and her boyfriend. It was expected from him that they’d likely be heading together towards one of the couple’s homes. Perhaps, knowing she was gal, to do some naughty things together. Though given they soon stopped their pace showed things were going to be different.

“I got something I need to say to you.” She was the one who stopped them. Apparently here was where she decided was a good spot, even though they weren’t entirely alone. As much as Hakuta thought it was inappropriate to be spying in on their conversation. He couldn’t resist hanging around just out of their view to watch them talk. They were close enough to him that he was able to hear them as well around the corner.

“What’s up, babe?” He responded. Considering her tone, that boyfriend of hers didn’t seem to notice or care about potential concerns.

“I don’t know if this is gonna work out.” Without beating around the bush, Ninka expressed her desire to break up with the boy.

“What?” This blindsided him. It even blindsided Hakuta as he peered over the conversation. “But, what? I thought were were having a great time.” He pleaded with her to reconsider, but it seemed the girl had already made up her mind.

“Look, I don’t really like you that much.” She replied, a bit harsh on it. Though perhaps it was for the best. Hakuta wasn’t certain on why she would this now of all times. They seemed to be fine with each other during lunch. “It’s kind of lame being in a relationship right now. So I gotta let you go.”

“Aww, fine.” Classmate… Was it C or D again? Anyway, her now ex-boyfriend hung his head in disappointment and shame as they parted ways. Hakuta was a bit sad to see this unfold before him. Even if he didn’t know much about the guy, it was unfortunate he had to get his heart broken in this manner.

What was also unfortunate for him was that they those two separated. Ninka ended up walking towards the corner where he was hiding behind. In a desperate bid to try and seem natural, he quickly had to walk and pretend as if he got there.

“Oh, what a surprise to run into you.” He said as he rounded the corner. “Hmm? Where’s…” Now that he was thinking about it, he actually never got that boy’s name. “Well, where’s your boyfriend?” She shot him a glare as he asked his question.

“You saw it, didn’t you?”

“S-saw what?” He responded nervously, trying to maintain composure. “What happened?”

“Whatever.” She was completely certain he saw what had transpired just moments ago. “You’re going to find out eventually anyway, but I just broke up with the guy.”

“Oh, I’m sorry to hear that.”

“It’s no big deal.” She continued to walk on past him. “I was the one who dumped him anyway. See you later at class then.”

“Yeah, I guess we’ll see each other later.” He breathed a sigh of relief she didn’t care about him witnessing the event. A beating wasn’t on his schedule today, and he’d rather not add pain to his life. Though as she left, he did sense there was a bit of something that was off about her tone. It was like she was down in her mood after breaking things off with her boyfriend.

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