Chapter 21:

The Gal Who Never Grew Up

My Childhood Best Friend is a VTuber! (OsananaV)

When we were kids, Sakura was always making trouble.

The antics of the gyaru sister of the most well-behaved girl in school were noticeable because of just that – the fact she was Koi’s sister.

How those two could have been the embodiment of the same genetics was and still is beyond me. They never looked similar, but because of Sakura’s blonde-dyed hair, she didn’t look similar to anyone.

That was the point - to not be like anyone, I guess.

We all seek our individuality in different ways. An escape from a harsh existence or an outlet to express what we can’t typically.

Despite the younger sister’s antics attracting the attention of the school so much, it never seemed as if her parents paid it much attention. The focus always seemed to be on Koi in one way or another.

But then again, I can’t say as to what happened behind closed doors.

I find it a little funny that Koi’s disposition seems to remind me of Sakura’s more and more as I reconnect with them both.

It’s like she’s growing as a person – just backwards.

On the other hand, Sakura seems the same as ever – no character development or long and contemplative monologues like this.

That is what makes the call I have to make so hard.

Because she’s freaking annoying!

The light from the phone screen in front of my face burns into my eyes. It’s too early to have the brightness up so high, Mayu’s alarm only just went off!

That means it’s like midday at best.

More painful than the luminescence scorching my retinas is what my screen is showing me.

Sakura Aizawa (Gal)

The fact I even have this number saved into my phone is cause enough for distress, but calling it just seems like something only a masochist would do.

Chika’s advice seems solid enough, in theory. It’s just getting to want to put myself through that is a task all on its own – even if it is for Koi.

With thoughts of masochism, pain and crushed desires, I jump out of bed and head over to my computer screen. Even if it hasn’t been long since I last laid my eyes on it (one day to be exact), it feels as if it’s been an eternity.

I sit back on the comfy chair and wake up my desktop, quickly heading over to Mayu’s stream to make sure she’s still doing the subathon.

The timer on the right-hand side of the stream is below half an hour; when it usually gets to this point, that means the stream only has a day or so left. The last dregs of the fans with money will be trying to donate in order to keep her on for longer, but even the power of desperate otakus is limited.

For this last leg of the stream, it seems that Mayu’s friends from Doki Doki Demons and even some vtubers from her ‘rival’ agency Kawaii Angels have come onto the stream to collaborate with her.

All of these vtubers are pretty close, frequently coming into each other's streams and interacting with one another.

As their names suggest, Doki Doki Demons is comprised of mostly demonic vtuber characters like succubi and devils. In contrast, Kawaii Angels is made up of more friendly creatures such as heavenly beings, maids and magical girls.

This all seems pretty lame now that I’m putting it like that.

The lore between these two runs so deep though, their merging of storylines has created a sort of vtuber multiverse that has constant story updates.

Despite being two different organizations, their similar naming scheme got the fanbases to pit them against each other as friendly rivals.

It sounds cooler when you read all about it online!

But as I look at this whole collection of friends, some even rivals and some with personalities entirely different from one another, I find myself longing for this wide group of friends.

This sort of dysfunctional family.

Watching them allows me to feel a little bit of what it means to be a part of their group, it’s comforting in times like this.

It gives me the strength to do what I have to do next.

I lift my phone and click the call button.

After my call with Koi, I half expect to be waiting for a while - slowly losing my mind as I do.

She answers instantly.

This one really doesn’t waste any time!

“Hihi, Sakura speaking! Unless you’re a weirdo or a creep, then I’m definitely not able to pick up the phone right now.”

Her voice sounds through the speakers in an overly joyful and high-pitched tone.

“That is the worst way to pick up a phone, I swear to god.”

“Oh, sorry Aki, I can’t make it to the phone right now, this is a voice message.”

“You just said my name!”

A few seconds into this call and I’m already regretting every decision that led me to this moment.

Is it worth it?

“I’m artificial intelligence?”

“You need to be intelligent for that! I’m happy to settle at ‘artificial’ if you still have that hair situation going on!”

Not that the artificial intelligence I’ve encountered has been very smart at all, but at least it’s better than this.

“I’ll have you know that my hair is wildly different than when you last saw me!”

At the sound of that, I almost feel bad about shaming her adolescent hairstyle.

“I’ve only got blonde streaks now!”

Oh god, I take it back. This girl deserves everything coming for her.

“I don’t know if I’d even be able to recognize you…”

The sarcasm drips out of my voice like venom.

“Honestly, I don’t even think you would. I’m like a whole different girl now.”

“You seem exactly the same!”

“Like you can talk!”

That last one hurt a bit; for all the development I feel like has happened in my life, for some reason when I get on the call with Sakura, all of it goes out of the window.

I become this snarky older brother type.

“Speaking of talking, I called for a reason.”

“Ooh, Aki, the Greatest, Conqueror of Worlds and Women, has come back for a rematch, has he?”

Anything to not get into it with you again, please!

“Why would the winner need a rematch? No, I came here to ask you some things – about Koi.”

As I spit out those last words, Sakura goes completely silent, I can’t even hear her breathing.

“Well, well, well. Isn’t this quite the predicament?”

Did she really take all that time just to prepare this melodramatic monologue?

“You need something that I currently have, and well you have the ability to give me something that I so desperately want.”

“And what is that?”

The thought of anything that Sakura might want from me is terrifying. Her entire game here seems to be to frustrate me as much as possible.

I can only think of situations where she would want me to embarrass myself, proving her superiority - like being her servant for a day or treating me like a dog.

Do people ask for things like that in real life, or is it just anime?

“A rematch! Defeat me in a battle of wits and I will give you anything you want, including information about Koi.”

Thank god!

A battle with a dimwit? I get everything I want?

This seems too good to be true!

“But, if I defeat you, then you have to give me anything that I want.”

Anything that I want.

Anything that I want.

Those words sound through my head and fill me with dread.

The thoughts of being Sakura’s pet dog or degenerate servant for a day come flooding back, perfectly vivid images in my mind.


The stakes have never been higher.

Liber Mercury
Dave Mania