Chapter 11:

Finding a Rhythm

My Childhood Best Friend is a VTuber! (OsananaV)

Koi opens the door to the diner.

It’s an urban-style eatery, a far cry from the family-style restaurants we would frequently go to with our parents when we were younger. The tables are a very white and modern square shape, with matching stools to boot. I guess conventional chairs are not in fashion.

Despite the alarming lack of backrest, everything in the place is comfortable, yet minimalist and immaculately clean.

They have some hip one-word name with a full stop after it like Food. or Eats. or something marketable like that.

The well-dressed waitress at the door leads us to our table, her red bandana catching my eye as the most notable piece of uniform that represents the store.

“Did you want any drinks to start you off?”

I start to pick up the menu to have a look, I wonder if they have matcha lemonade.

“Two matcha lemonades please.”

Looking up, I see Koi talking to the waitress, ordering for me as well.

I know I should be mad that she didn’t ask me what I wanted, but there was something oddly comforting about it all. She knew exactly what I wanted anyway, and it meant that I didn’t have to try and flex my nonexistent social skills trying to navigate conversation with the staff.

“You’ve never been very good at talking in these kinds of scenarios.”

At first, Koi’s statement sounds harsh, as if she’s taking a dig at me – but the more I sit with it, I realize that it’s sort of sweet.

She’s letting me know she remembers me enough to know how to act with me in a place like this – even remembering what I want to drink.

Whether or not she meant it that way, I have no idea. But for the sake of my sanity right now, I’ll wager on that.

Still, even in this kind of scenario, I have no idea what to say in return.

Thinking back on my entrance and how I first talked to Koi today sends shivers down my spine - ever since that point our balance has just been off. Awkward silences accompanied by Koi’s sensationalist lines.

“Uh, about earlier…”

As I start off our conversation, Koi puts her hand on her chin, the finger that was previously stopping my heart firmly pressed on her lip. I don’t know if I’ve slouched a bit in my chair or maybe she’s elevated herself up, but from this angle, it feels as if she’s looking down on me like I’m vermin.

I only make this comparison because it’s a look I know all too well.

“I was wondering if you’d be able to forget what I said.”

A smile creeps up on her face, the sort of ear-to-ear, mischievous grin that makes my hair stand on end.

“Hm? That’s a strange request, but okay - I’ll bite.”

“I’d rather you wouldn’t, I’ve been injured enough today.”

That one was a little juvenile, I’ll admit. You miss all the shots you don’t take.

Reaching across the table, Koi puts her hand out for a shake.

“My name is Koiyomi, wha-“

“You just forgot everything I’ve said to you ever!”

My strange childhood best friend withdraws her hand, throwing both of her arms up in defeat.

“You ask me to do one thing and then pull back and ask for another. You’re developing into quite the tsundere, Aki.”

That’s a very bold accusation!

“When did I become the tsundere here?”

“There’s got to be one in the story and it’s certainly not me!”

If I’m going to level with you, based on my conversation with Sakura, I’m not sure there’s going to be only just one.

“You literally called yourself one the other day!”

But alas, telling Koi that her sister is just as hot-headed as her, or vice versa for that matter, may not be the best move right now. Even I have some tact and knowledge of sibling rivalries, even if most of my information comes from anime.

Don’t get your head in the gutter!

“Your accusations are getting more and more far-fetched by the moment, Akira Nonomi.”

I shudder a little bit at the sound of her pronouncing my full name.

“They’re not accusations, you admitted it! I have a full statement and confession.”

If we go back a few chapters I can give you a full transcript, actually!

It’s stupid that this makes me kind of happy; I was worried a little when our beat was so off-tune before, it felt like I was talking to a stranger. This way, the way we’ve always communicated with each other has a special kind of rhythm.

Speaking of rhythm…

“Where did you want to go after this?”

When Koi and I were younger, we’d often spend our time after school at the arcade close by to here. I’m not sure if that’s something she’s still interested in, but it would be nice to go back together.

We’d always get extremely competitive over this one musical video game that utilized our legs as inputs for the controllers; I always forget the name though. For legal reasons, it’s probably best I did anyway.

“Oh, I was just thinking of getting you to pay for my meal and then leave.”

That jab hits me in the heart more than it should’ve; I am weakening by the moment with all these body blows I’ve received today.

“I’m joking, Aki. Don’t look so dejected. We’re going to the arcade, right?”

My insides warm up a little as I realize we’re both on the same page with going to the arcade after this. We’re not kids anymore, but I think those places are for adults too, right?

After we finish our lunch, we pay our tab and start walking over to the arcade.

Despite being quite chatty in the comfort of the diner while we ate, the conversation has come to a halt. This probably wouldn’t be memorable in its own right, but as you would probably have guessed by now, there’s a lot of talking when we’re together.

Sorry, not sorry.

It’s not a particularly awkward silence, just notable in its rarity. As we walk through the bustling streets, I finally feel comfortable enough and outside of my own head to appreciate what’s around me.

The cars speeding past, the people converging at the traffic lights and the shops painted in every single colour.

I look to my right, at the extremely cute girl walking alongside me, although I’ll probably never tell her that. I probably look a little too long, because she stares up at me in mild confusion.

There’s something sweet about her like this, maybe it’s just the fact no insults are being hurled at me right now that is somehow brightening her image.

In what feels like a moment, but ends up lasting for eternity, someone from the oncoming foot traffic bumps into Koi. As a result of this collision, my childhood best friend proceeds to bump into me – her hand firmly touching mine.

No, this isn’t some cutesy anime scene where their hands touch and sparks fly. If anything, all I could say is it just made me realize that I like this kind of closeness with someone else. I worry that it could be anyone and I’d be satisfied, but I know I’m happy it’s with her.