Chapter 3:

A Battle of Wits

My Childhood Best Friend is a VTuber! (OsananaV)

“So, uh…. You actually came…”

Koi looks down as she strokes her pink-streaked hair behind her ear, letting me see a better glimpse of her face from the side.

So. Freaking. Cute.

I feel like there’s been a tonal shift in her demeanour since we started walking down the street after exiting the restaurant; I don’t know how to explain it other than the fact she seems timider than before.

Timider? More timid? Timidest, even?

Maybe that was just all a front for her parents, or maybe even my parents – a show of strength perhaps.

Inspired by the cute gesture before me, I decided to reach for the back of my head too – not that it would at all look as cute as Koi, but something in my body just needed to do it.

“Yeah. To be honest, I wasn’t going to, I had sort of forgotten all about this – it was only when I got a text this morning about it that I mustered up to even get out of the house.”

I recant the events of the day, trying to make light conversation – whatever the hell that is.

And that’s when I saw it.

Another tonal shift.

Koi glares at me with a demonic passion in her eyes, the longer I gaze upon them the more I feel as if I can make out little pits of hellfire burning out at me.

“I feel like there was a massive shift in the world just then, I can feel it in my core.”

“I killed you in my mind about a hundred times just then. Wait. About a hundred and one times now.”

“And you’re still going? When does this even stop?”

“The blade of my katana can keep at this for hours.”

“A katana? What are you, some cool anime protagonist?”

Koi lifts her chest up high and crosses her arms.

“I mean, if this were an anime, I would be the protagonist. I think I would be on the front cover or something looking down at vermin like you with a menacing glare.”

The barrage of insults is strange coming from Koi, but I can’t say I’m unfamiliar with them in essence – it feels just like the roasts that Mayu gives out on a day-to-day basis. I can imagine maybe Koi looks up to her in a way, a strong and powerful female in the anime space.

“They don’t usually have the tsundere as the protagonist, it doesn’t work out well for viewer relatability – I’d say there would be a weak-willed otaku boy who takes that role. If anything, you are a minor love interest or just childhood best friend.”

Koi’s cheeks flush red as her previous composure shrivels.

“Sugoi… Your cheeks are all red now.”

Why I felt the need to say it, I have no idea. It’s the kind of picturesque scene you only see in romance anime.

Followed by….

Koi’s hand swings around to whack me right in the face.

Luckily, she’s actually really slow, so I manage to step back out of the way in time, but the experience by itself is frightening.

“What was that? I saw nothing resembling a katana!”

Koi steps backwards and looks away from me, her cheeks still shining with a rosy hue.

What was the deal here honestly? Please don’t tell me she’s going to come back with saying she was trying to swat a fly. I’m telling you right now Koi, if you say that then I won’t believe it!

That’s right Akira, you tell her in your imaginary world.

“I was just testing your reflexes; I can’t go letting you get soft on me.”

What is she, my karate instructor?

“That’s a new one, I was convinced you were going to say something else.”

Koi glares at me as her cheeks turn from warm roses to cold lilies.

“I managed to swat a fly as well, just didn’t think it was really worth mentioning.”

I knew it!

I feel like I’m drowning in a pool that keeps on changing temperature; not knowing if I’m doing the right thing or the wrong thing. At this point, I don’t even know how to feel about this situation. Are we having fun? Are we fighting? Is this what adult friends do? It’s not like I would know either way.

My heart aches. I don’t like this.

“You look like you’re staring into space, everything okay?”

I have plunged into new waters again. Splash.

“Aren’t we always staring into space?”

My comebacks feel snappier than usual, it reminds me of something I would’ve said a long time ago. I shudder at the thought of that person returning.

“Not if you’re staring into a vacuum.”

Koi pushes on the centre of her brow as if she is pushing up invisible glasses in a display of intellect.

“You shouldn’t be acting that smart, that’s empty space, not lack of space.”

My quippy comebacks ensue as my hand comes down in a karate chop on her head. I can assume the imaginary glasses fell off.

“I beg to differ, when I look at you, I don’t see a human. I don’t see how it would be any different from not seeing empty space as space at all.”

Ouch. Is she trying to say I’m completely empty inside? This is assault! Mental battery of the highest degree.

At this point, Koi’s demeanour is completely composed, as if she was just standing still and putting no effort into existence at all. That alone made me feel small in a way that has only happened once or twice before when I was a new viewer on Mayu’s streams. In those days I didn’t know how to interact with the community and didn’t realise the sorts of comments that would set her off into a rage.

It was like drowning in a pool that keeps on changing temperature. Am I hot? Am I cold? Or does it not matter at all? Drowning is drowning all the same either way.

“This is no fun when you don’t say anything in response, ya know?”

At this point Koi’s nose is almost touching mine as if she’s investigating the pores on my face.

“Sorry, I was just thinking that you remind me of someone I know – sort of.”

“I sort of remind you of someone you know, or I remind you of someone you sort of know?”

I can see my question going both ways.

“I mean, both, to be honest.”

“Do you sort of like this person that you sort of know that sort of looks like me?”

Stepping back, I think about that for longer than I need to, I mean the answer is most undoubtedly yes. Is ‘like’ too weak a word for someone I feel so strongly about or is it too powerful a word for someone I haven’t met before?

“Ahhhh, I see Aki boy. Indecisive as ever, you’re never going to be able to get me if you can’t even decide if you like a girl that you obviously feel so strongly about!”

Can she read my mind or something?

“Don’t insert yourself as the love interest in this story!”

In one motion, Koi spins around and hops away from me, playfully making her way across the street. Turning back for a second, she lets out a single line before heading off toward the restaurant we came from.

“The tsundere is always a possible love interest.”