Chapter 4:

PASSION!!! Just Another Day For Your Local Magical Girl! [Part 4]

Magical Knight Lune XY: My HOMIE Swooped Me off My Feet, and Now I Think I Might Be in LOVE?!

K.O.!!!!!” shouted the fighting game announcer as I took down my CPU opponent for the third time in a row.

I never lose a match with Yumi, a cute Japanese magical girl who fights amongst a wacky roster of characters, ranging from a muscle bound dudebro from Chicago to a duck. Just a literal duck. Surprisingly it has one of the largest fan followings out of every character in the franchise.

I’m biased towards magical girls in general, so Yumi’s my main. Every time I sit down to play, I immediately beeline for her and quickly jump into a match.

With Jack losing his job at the grocery store, he decided to come with me to the tiny arcade to hang out. He never had much interest in video games, so all he’d do was hang around and watch me.

“What a buncha crap,” Jack yelled, taking off his work uniform and throwing it over his shoulder, sporting just his white undershirt. “I go out of my way to not break the law and lose my job, and what happens? I lose my job! Not even a week in!”

The arcade was loud with the sound of numerous classic arcade games with their volume turned all the way up, mixed with old disco music playing on the speaker system. Even with Jack yelling his grievances, the booming sounds of the arcade drowned him out, so only I could hear him.

Not that there were many people here at the moment. This late on a school night, the only people here were ne’er-do-wells and middle aged men reliving their youth.

I glanced up at Jack between rounds. The neon and blacklights illuminated his face, scrunched up with frustration. He was mad but worried more than anything.

“You did kinda overdo it back there,” I chimed in at the start of my next match.

“Hey! They took the first swing at me! You were there! You saw it!”

“Right. But you weren’t helping the situation by escalating the violence.”

“And what was I supposed to do?” he asked. “Break the law for those losers?”

“In situations like that, you’re supposed to call the manager and let them handle it.”

“Oh, sure! Let the manager handle it! All he’d do is let them get away with it. Then they’ll come back and pull the same stunt again.”

“But then it wouldn’t be your issue anymore. If anyone were to get in trouble, it would’ve been the manager’s.”

Jack crossed his arms and leaned back against the arcade cabinet. “Just ticks me off that I get in trouble when I’m trying to live on the straight and narrow, only to get knocked down for it.”

“There was plenty of getting knocked down, shared by all,” I said. “You wanna play for a bit? My treat.”

“Nah,” Jack said. “I’d prefer a bout in real life over a virtual one any day.”

“See, that’s your problem. Sometimes I think you’re looking for an excuse to get into a fight every chance you get.”

Jack turned to face me. “You know I don’t do that crap anymore. I can’t risk it. I only fight when it comes to self-defense.”

“Like I said, you were escalating the situation so those thugs would take a jab at you. You say you fight only in self-defense, only to then keep throwing yourself into one warzone after the next. Of course, someone’s gonna take a shot.”

“I’m not in the mood for a scolding right now,” Jack said.

“I’m not trying to scold you,” I told him. “I’m trying to suggest alternative methods to let loose some of that energy. You can beat up all the people you want in an arcade game, and nobody will make a fuss.”

After finishing another round, I got up from the small bench in front of the machine and offered it to Jack. He looked at the screen for a moment, refusing to move. But just as the next match was about to start, he sat down and started playing.

And my god, what a bloodbath of a fight it was. Jack never managed a single hit on his opponent. You’d figure he’d manage at least one.

Second round wasn’t any better. I watched poor Yumi get smacked around by a foot-tall duck.

“K.O.!!!!! Perfect!!!!!” the announcer shouted as the duck looked at the screen, scratched itself, then quacked with no emotion.

“I’ve never seen anyone lose a fight to the duck,” I said, watching the screen go to countdown. “You wanna try again?”

Jack stood up. “Nah. I’m not in the mood. You keep playing,” he said as he went to the exit.

“Jack! Wait up!” I yelled, hurrying out after him.

He walked down the dimly lit neighborhood at a brisk pace. With his height and long legs, I had to jog to keep up with him.

“Jack!” I called out, but he ignored me.

I reached out and grabbed his hand, which made him finally stop.

“You didn’t have to leave, too,” Jack said, slowing down when he noticed me trailing behind. “I know you like playing those games.”

“I didn’t mean to upset you back there,” I said.

“It’s not…” Jack sighed. He turned to me and rubbed my head, ruffling my wild hair.

“Knock it off!” I said, swatting his hand away in embarrassment.

“Sorry, sorry,” he laughed, lightening up. “You didn’t upset me. I just got a lot of things on my mind at the moment, and all that noise wasn’t helping.”

“You wanna talk about it?”

Jack continued walking without a reply, keeping to himself.

He wouldn’t want me to delve too much into his personal life, but the truth was that Jack lived alone. His family life was never a good one, and the moment he turned sixteen, he got himself emancipated. Now he’s struggling to make ends meet while still finding the time to go to school.

I could tell he wasn’t mad because he got himself fired. He was mad because he had set out to live his own life, and things weren’t looking good with each passing day.

“You know, if it ever comes to it, there’s always a spare room at my place,” I told him. “You can live there rent free.”

Jack immediately brushed the idea off. “I appreciate it, but I gotta do this on my own. If I can’t get past something as small as losing a job, then how am I gonna be able to support those that I love?”

He flexed his arms and imitated Yumi’s victory pose, albeit poorly. “I ain’t gonna let this keep me down.”

I laughed. “You look like such a dork!”

“Dork? This is the same pose Yumi does! I’ve seen it like a million times!”

“It’s not like that.”

I performed Yumi’s victory pose and repeated her catchphrase. It’s entirely in Japanese, but I think I pronounced it alright.

It was Jack’s turn to laugh. “Hey! That's pretty good! Maybe you could pull off that whole magical girl look, too.”

Hearing that immediately shook me. There was no way I could ever let Jack find out the truth.

“I-I couldn’t! No way!” I instantly rejected the idea. “I’d never be a magical girl!”

Jack patted me on the back. “Not saying you are, man. Just that you could do a good job!”

“...I guess?” I replied, my stomach feeling like it was full of butterflies.

Smiling, Jack pulled out his cracked phone and checked the time. “I better head home. Gotta go job hunting before school tomorrow, so I need all the sleep I can get.”

“Want me to walk with you?” I asked.

He shook his head. “Nah. It’s the opposite direction for you, after all. By the time you’d make it home, it’d be the middle of the night.”

“You sure?”

Jack nodded, then silently started heading home.

“Jack!” I called out. “Be careful on your way home!”

“What are you? My girlfriend?” he laughed, waving his hand without looking back.

I chuckled at the thought.

Once Jack was out of sight, I transformed into Lune and made my way home across the rooftops.