I finished up my stream, which ended up featuring Kage. I was surprised that Nai-bu didn’t say anything in the chat when Kage pretended to flirt with me. He’s always such a joker. Leaving my bedroom I saw Nai-bu sitting at the table with her head down. Maybe she fell asleep? When It tried to shake her shoulder, she barely moved, before almost suddenly getting up.
“Everything okay?” I asked, thoroughly confused.
“Yeah...but no. I think I’m going home now.” She said.
It was only 8pm, and we planned to get food after my stream. Why would she just leave now? Something didn’t seem right, so I stood between her and the hallway to the front door.
“What happened? Was it the stream?”
“The stream? No...it was...something else.”
“Please talk about it. I don’t want you to leave like this.”
“I...I told my mom…” She could barely say it. “And she said we would talk about it later.”
Nai-bu’s parents were always pretty stern when we were kids, but I never thought they would ignore her expressing herself. But it wasn’t like they had much of a chance to understand her, especially if she hadn’t been living with them for so long. Regardless, I wasn’t letting this ruin our night.
“Listen. Go sit on the couch and put on whatever comfort show you want to watch. I’ll take care of dinner.” I said, hoping she’d agree. “We can sit on the couch and just hang out. Does that sound good?”
She looked like she could have been holding back tears, or maybe she had run out of them. She nodded and made her way to the living room. That was one half taken care of.
Making dinner wasn’t exactly my strong suit, but I knew how to heat up frozen food, so it was going to be a cheese and a sausage pizza. Normally I’d eat one pizza across a day, but I wasn’t sure which she would like more right now, and wanted to give her a moment to herself while I at least started to cook the pizzas. I began to realize I didn’t know the last time I tried to cheer up a friend like this. It was probably not in-person, that’s for sure.
While the pizzas were cooking I brought Nai-bu a glass of apple juice. She told me she didn’t do well with carbonated drinks, and I made sure to restock my fridge a little before she came over. I looked to see what she put on, and it was the show we were on as kids.
“This is your comfort show?” I asked, surprised.
She sighed. “Whenever things got bad in middle school, I’d always look up clips of the show. Now that the whole thing is online, sometimes I put on a playlist.”
I never really watched the show as a kid, let alone as an adult. As I watched along, I tried to see if I remembered the day we filmed, but nothing was coming back to me. Partly this was because for me it was just playing pretend, so I rarely worried about remembering it beyond that moment. But also seeing it with music and from the angle of someone else watching, it was a very different experience. Is this what we looked like to our neighbors?
When the pizzas were done, I cut them and brought them into the living room. I offered Nai-bu first grabs and she took one slice of each. Definitely not what I was anticipating. As we sat there and ate pizza, I asked a few questions, and Nai-bu tried to catch me up to speed. I couldn’t even really remember the plot anymore, and even she admitted it was just a vehicle for essentially standalone stories. It seemed like it was helping Nai-bu’s mood, but something still felt off.
After I put the dishes back in the kitchen, I returned to Nai-bu laying on the couch, with her face looking away from the TV. I sat on the floor in front of the couch. While looking away still, she put out her arm. I grabbed her hand, and held onto it. She held mine in return, and we just sat there while the show continued to play. I was becoming more invested, but also curious. There was an episode that played where Nai-bu’s character learned the truth about my character being a double agent, but wanted to stay friends. She knew that their friends would understand. Her memory is erased before she can tell anyone. It was pretty weird, honestly.
Suddenly, Nai-bu started to move. She turned herself to be laying on her front, then put her arms around my head, pulling the back of my head closer to her. I was definitely caught off guard, but understood what was going on pretty quickly. At least, until she started talking.
“Do you remember what you used to say to me when we were kids?” She asked, sounding barely awake.
“I...I don’t know what you mean…” I admitted.
She yawned, then continued. “You used to say I was your favorite. I never understood it, and you could never explain it.”
I couldn’t think what to say. It sounded familiar, but it had been so long.
“Whenever I think about it, I think I like it. And I think you’re my favorite now.” She said, squeezing tighter.
Not exactly what I was expecting, but it was sweet. I really was glad we could…
She moved her face, which was already close to my ear, to kiss my cheek. She squeezed tighter, mumbling, “...my favorite…” a few times, like she was drifting off to sleep.
I sat as still as I could, but I could feel my heart pounding. My veins felt like they were burning up. It was as if I was injected with adrenaline and couldn’t even remotely calm down. Was this why she was asking about Kage? Why she told me she was gay? Does she...does she like me?
I couldn’t think about that for very long, because my mind was immediately brought back to thoughts of wanting to devour her. Her arm was right there in front of my mouth. What’s stopping me? Some spell? For all I knew, that spell was done and over. I could just open my mouth and find out pretty easily. She’d forgive me, right? I’m her favorite, she says. I--
I slid my back down the front of the couch to escape Nai-bu’s grasp and practically crawled back to the kitchen. How was my brain even thinking about eating? I was full from the pizza, and for the past three days I had been eating extra jerky so my instincts wouldn’t kick in and go after her. In the kitchen I ate more jerky, and checked my arms and legs, but I wasn’t even transforming. Was the alien part of my brain just always active now? Ready to surprise me when I least expect it?
I put myself in my bedroom and decided to focus on some online content. Maybe a surprise follow up stream or subscriber only stream. I can’t put Nai-bu at risk if my brain is going to be a danger to her. The more I distract myself, the better. That’s the best option for both of us right now.