Chapter 4:

Gremlin Asagiri Unleashed

My Government-Issued Girlfriend Can't Be This Cute!

 Overbearing scents of burnt food assaulted my nose. In my own house. What did this woman do while I was gone?

From the entrance hallway, I paced down the corridor and into our living room. Scattered all around were empty soda cans and open potato chip bags, like some homeless encampment blossomed in my absence.

And then I spotted the perpetrator.

“Ayyy, Nishikata! Waddup L-M-A-O.” Asagiri in cute, gray pajamas was sitting back on my couch while she picked her nose.

“W-What?" I stammered at the languorous scene in front of me. "What's going on here?"

"I'm havin' a good time. How was work, honey?" She chugged a soda then loudly burped, jittering cat ears atop her head.

“Forget work, this place is a mess! What happened?”

“Oh yeah, my inner gremlin escapes sometimes. Sorry about that."


“Yep. My inner demon; but cola calms her down," Asagiri said. The TV across from her blared some anime rerun, while Furbolt off in his cat scratch tower slumbered.

Man, I do not need this right after work. I scanned the kitchen behind me and turned back towards my girlfriend. “Hey! Didn’t you say you’d finish cleaning our kitchen after I left?”

“Semantics. Also, don’t expect me to wake up early anymore.”

“Early? Those were normal people hours!”

She cringed at me like I just insulted her. “I ain’t about that life anymore, chief. Winging it is the only reason I even managed to finish school."

The image of Asagiri becoming an ideal girlfriend slowly shattered in my mind. “But you woke up fine today though?"

“Only cuzz' I couldn't have you canceling our contract before a whole day passes." Handfuls of potato chips scooped themselves into her mouth. "Wud' loik bad fore me, munch-munch.

“Do you want me to cancel the contract?”

“Hmmm . . . There's AC here so preferably not.”

My left eye started twitching. “Then can you at least try to not act like a squatter?”

“Squatter? I prefer the term 'friend with benefits'.”

 “That phrase doesn’t mean what you think it does.”

“Again, semantics." She reached under her shirt and scratched her belly. "And now that you’re home, you gonna make us food? Kinda hungry."

Suffering. “You mentioned you’d cook something when I came back. That’s why I didn’t eat out today.”

“Did I? Probably changed my mind then.” Asagiri picked up the remote and started surfing channels. Even Furbolt up in his cat tower couldn't help but look disillusioned.

“Yeah," I replied, to her "and you said you’d help out with chores from now on.”

“I became progressive overnight. It’s sexist to assign girls stereotypical gender norms. Guys handle all the lame stuff, Nishikata.”

I'm gonna ignore that contradiction. But was this really going to be my life from now on? Maintaining a government-issued mooch? I was used to Nemoto slacking at work but this was on a whole other level. I actually still really like Asagiri, but maybe I shouldn’t subject my mental health to—my eyes fell onto a book tucked behind her back. 

“What’s that?” I pointed.

“This?” She wiped her hands clean and reached behind to pluck it out. “Ah, I went to your room earlier. You said I could play games, but I saw this novel on an easel and decided to give it a read.”

A passionate flame of excitement lit itself in my heart. “That’s Dominion’s Paradise! My favorite novel! What did you think about it?”

"H-Huh?" She looked confused at my sudden outburst. “I only finished the first chapter; pretty trippy. I would’ve read more but didn’t wanna get fingerprints on it while I eat.”


“Yee. Looked like it was autographed by the author so I didn’t wanna ruin it. Here.”

I accepted the light novel from her and inspected it: not a blemish or fingerprint in sight. Asagiri even took care not to open the spine too far.

“Marry me,” I told her.

“Yeah, when you give me whatever you’re smoking.”

"I'll take that as a no, but whatever." I plopped down on the couch near her. "Anyway, tell me! Tell me! Did the first chapter hook you? Did you like the main character? Do you wanna read the rest of the series? I could lend you every volume!"

Her face recoiled like a total creep just sat beside her. "T-The first chapter didn't tell me much, but I'll read the rest if you want—just don't rape me in my sleep."

"Deal! You're gonna love it! Guaranteed!" I'm totally fanboying way too much! But who cares!

"Eh? What's so hype anyway?"

"Wellforoneeveryoneloveshowrelatabletheprotagonistis, andhowhe'sconstantlydoinghisbest! He'stryingeverythingtofindhissistereventhoughDominionisalwaystryingtothwarthim!  
Nottomentionhowamazingthewritingandplottwistsaresoeveryone'salwayshypedforthenextvolumeeventhoughtheauthorwritesoslow! ButhelovestravelingtoJapanandgivingusupdatesonhow—"

Asagiri flicked my nose. "Listen, I'm drier than a desert right now. How about let me read the dang story at my own pace, and see where we go from there?"

"S-Sorry. I got a bit carried away, haha."

"Keep sucking off the author and I might just become his girlfriend. What was their name again?"

"You wouldn't know him," I grumbled. "But he's a newbie writer from America who made a surprise hit by changing up the isekai formula."

"Isekai? Even I know how oversaturated the market is with those."

"Yeah, but the characters and themes really gave his isekai life. Apparently he got distracted writing a romcom so that slowed things down."

“Excuses. Should’ve just wrote both at the same time."

“Author passion projects usually gotta take a backseat for other things . . .”

"Imagine an isekai being your passion project.”

I looked down and admired the cover for Dominion's Paradise. It featured the protagonist, Daichi Ayanami, princess carrying the story's main villain, Dominion—a well-endowed Greek goddess. Constant dichotomies that blurred lines between good and evil had kept me hooked for years.

"Is that girl the main character's first harem member or something?" Asagiri beside me pointed at the book's cover. "Don't think I saw her in chapter one."

"Oh no, there isn't a harem in this story, surprisingly. She's—well you'll find out early on. Don't wanna give any spoilers."

"Huh." She reached into a bag of chips and chowed down. "As long as she's not the girl on your dakimakura upstairs, we're fine."

"Ha. Haha . . . About that."

"Shit, thought so. It's not the weirdest thing in your room at least."

I stood up from the couch, embarrassed. "Do you want something to eat? I'll make us something this time."

"Don't try changing the subject. You're a hopeless incel so I gotta fix you—and I got a proposition."

"Huh? Proposition?"

"Here." She slipped her phone out and offered it to me. "Look at my homescreen and you'll understand."

"Ok?" I cautiously took the device from her hand then unlocked it. Huh? No passcode? The homescreen displayed various apps and a background of me kneeling over to pet Furbolt this morning. What? When did she take this wholesome picture?

"You might be a cringe otaku, but you're still my boyfriend." Asagiri's tone turned mature as she crossed her legs. "Doesn't matter if we were assigned. I'm gonna make this relationship work while it lasts, so let me help you help yourself."

"I'm kinda confused now." I handed her phone back.

"Par the course. Us GiG workers have one main goal, and helping our clients get real girlfriends is progress towards that goal. So I'm gonna whip you into shape until women are throwing themselves at you."

My arms opened wide. "Wanna be the first?"

"The only thing you're catching from me is these hands—speaking of hands, here grab mine." She stretched her arm out.

"Huh? Is this a trap?" My spare hand not holding Dominion's Paradise acted like a cautious deer.

"No, I give you literal permission to hold it, how ever you want. Show me if I’m dealing with a virgin or not."

"I jerk off with my right—"

"You talk a big game, but you're trying to scare me off when I know you're just coming home and couldn't have fapped yet."

"F-Fine!" My shaking arm slowly made its way over. Asagiri's eyes deadlocked on mine—a spider waiting patiently for the fly. As my hand hovered right above hers, her fingers clamped around.

"Good, now don't move." Her full weight tugged on me as she pried herself off the couch and stood up. A huge yawn escaped her mouth. "Zhanks for the help, Nishikata."

It took a few seconds for my brain to compute things. "Wait, did you trick me into helping your lazy ass get off the couch?”

"No, no, you're overthinking it," she said as she stretched. "Besides, how'd it feel to finally hold a girl's hand?"

"I've done more than hold hands with a girl before; it's nothing special."

"Your sweaty palms say otherwise."

"It was just hot outside today!"

She brought her fingers to her lips and licked them. "Yeah, and I'm just lapping up crumbs and not your sweat."

Neuron activation.

Asagiri traveled to the kitchen pantry and pulled out some lollipops. She returned with one bobbing around in her mouth. "Back to that proposition though: as your girlfriend, I'm not averse to doing girlfriend things, like holding hands or going on dates. So let's go out tomorrow somewhere and have fun."

"I know a good love hotel downtown."

"Hey, I'm game. Under one condition though."

What in tarnation? "Speak your terms."

"This lollipop in my mouth? I dare you to try taking it out and sticking it in your own."

"That's it?"

"Yeah. But if you can't, I kick you in the balls."

My eyes examined the rim of her mouth. "Don't suppose your teeth would lock it inside?"

"Fuck around and find out." She stuck the stick fully upwards from her lips.

I felt myself tensing as she stretched forward like someone expecting a kiss. Her gaze was hypnotic, inviting, and full of longing. My hand reached up towards her, inching ever closer to her lush, full lips. But at the last moment, I pulled back and retreated.

"You know what," I said with a bashful face, "I wanna have kids someday, maybe, probably. So can't really risk this, haha."

"Kids? Worry about getting laid in general first, but okay." She plucked the red lollipop from her mouth and waved it around. "Anyway, about that date tomorrow."

"Oh I'm down. But I work every day except weekends, so we gotta wait a while."

"No problem. Just ask for tomorrow off."

"I don't think you realize how the real-world works."

"Come on, your managers can't be that bad."

Color drained from my face. "You have no idea. My supervisor, Asada, handles things like days off and she'd probably fire me just for asking."

"She?" Asagiri's devious eyes lit up, and she tiptoed closer to me. "Is she cute?"

"She's a loli tyrant! Cute until she's not! And she's always hounding me more than everyone else for some reason."

"Lowkey sounds like she's got a crush on you."

I crossed my arms into an X-shape. "Fake news. Even if she did, I'm not into small women."

"Is that so . . . ?" Asagiri in deep thought paced around the living room, weaving past Furbolt's cat tower and then by my dad's reclining chair. "You said you worked at a bookstore, right? Shouldn't be too hard for coworkers to cover your shift then."

True. I remembered how much I slaved covering for Kikuchi today. Getting sudden days off wasn't impossible, but it was definitely not something people picking up the slack liked. "Fine. What do I get if Asada says no then?"

"You give me a shoulder massage."

"Works for me!" With a win-win situation, I yanked my phone out and sent Asada a quick text. Normally I'd need to ask weeks ahead of time for days off, so I had zero hope of anything. Almost instantly though my screen lit up with a reply. "Huh?"

"What's it say?" Asagiri tried to peek.

"She said it's . . . fine? I can't believe it!"

"Wow, I was kinda looking forward to my massage."

I continued staring down at my phone in disbelief. "Asada didn't give any sass either! She must've sucked blood from an orphan or something!"

"Weeeeeell, it does support the whole crush on you theory."

"Ugh. You should see how she treats me at work."

"Maybe I should," Asagiri mumbled under her breath. Her fingers clutched her chin, like she was plotting something nefarious. "Alright, I'll drop the topic. In exchange, tell me where you're taking us out tomorrow?"

“Dunno, I’ll figure it out later. Gonna wash dishes since our washer is busted right now.” I motioned to head upstairs to drop off my things, but Asagiri darted past me into the kitchen.

“Don’t worry, I got them.” She lathered a sponge and turned on the faucet over dirty dishes.

“Huh? Didn’t you back out of doing chores?”

"Geez, I was only kidding." Asagiri beamed an earnest smile—the kind only angels could make. "I’ll help around the house, but it'll probably depend on how much you spoil me."

I glanced down towards Furbolt's food bowl: its contents had been nibbled on but undoubtedly refilled while I was away.

"Marry me," I asserted again.

Myriad bubbles coated her delicate fingers as she rinsed off another load of dishes. She raised her head and shot me a wink. "A lot can happen in one year, right? Play your cards right and who knows where we'll go."

My bashful face flushed embarrassed pink, so I looked away. "Y-Yeah. I'm gonna head upstairs, but I'll be right back to help clean things up!"

"Don't jerk off," she snapped. "You did last time before washing dishes and that was gross man."

"Uhhhhh, I'll fap less if you unleash gremlin Asagiri less. Deal?"

"She'll consider it," Asagiri said with a pout. "And mind tossing Dominion's Paradise on my bed? I'll read another chapter or two tonight maybe."

"No prob, I'll be back in a jiff then." I adjusted my backpack and hurried upstairs, heart fluttering with every step. Was I legitimately starting to fall for Asagiri? No! I was just horny. Horny is the only thing I'm allowed to be.

I opened the door to Asagiri’s room. Her personal belongings were scattered about, still being organized. An open suitcase on her bed leaked out colorful arrays of clothes while the nightstand sported random snacks on top. Already the room had hints of her sweet scent.

Dominion’s Paradise plopped onto her pillow and I darted to my room before getting weird ideas.

The four walls now surrounding me had always been my sanctuary, a shield that I'd plastered with my hobbies and interests for years. Maybe I was hoping to impress friends I didn't have, or perhaps I was just keeping the memory of my first crush alive. But ultimately, it was time I took the wheel and steered myself somewhere better.

I reached down and slid out a drawer. The sleeping pill bottle inside beckoned me like an enticing seductress. My fingers wrapped around her, pulling her into my chest. She was heavy—not in weight—but symbolic value.

I’d always been afraid to kill myself. Years of piling mental anguish stemming from an incident seven years ago had gradually eaten away at me. Outwardly, I was fine, but emotions that'd been bottled inside were threatening to burst. The temptations of a death cult whispering my name didn't help either, and if I succumbed to them, that'd be my curtain call.

My biggest regret would just be letting go the hand of someone who was suffering more than me. To this day, I still didn't know whether she abandoned me, or if I abandoned her that fateful night.

Even almost a decade later, the comfort of a method to end myself being just footsteps away from my bed soothed me. If I wasn't such a coward, maybe I'd have already pulled the metaphorical trigger, but support from oblivious coworkers had kept me afloat. Not a single day passed though without those pills serenading me.

But no more. It was time to rebel. I didn’t distort Noriko's principles all those years ago to follow in her old ideologies. She was living out her life, and I was ready to live my own. There was now someone by my side that was slowly filling the voids within me.

Asagirithank you for saving me from myself.

With a confident smile, I walked up to my trash can and tossed the pill bottle inside.

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