Chapter 7:

Mogami the Chadness

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

'Those most in need of a GiG are the most vulnerable. Even if yours succeeds in rectifying your mental state, who's to say you won't regress as soon as she departs?'

The fact Asagiri wouldn’t be around forever was a hard pill to swallow—even harder than real pills.

But why did I care? I was just a steppingstone in her life and eventually she’d forget all about me. After one year, we’d go our separate ways and that was that. End of story.

In the dead silent corridor, I crept my way forward until reaching a black door. Hums of a living, breathing world just outside beckoned me onwards, and my shoulders pushed against the exit. As I stepped out, bright light from the theater hallway made me nearly stumble, then what little trash remained on my tray careened off. 

Pathetic. I'm pathetic. I knelt over to collect fallen rubbish and shuffled them back onto my food tray. I'd left a debris field in the screen room too, but given earlier circumstances, who could blame me? Pathetic.

Careful not to make much noise, I slid my trash into a bin then laid the tray on top. Every moment, I found myself looking over my shoulder, wondering if that DeLightful couple would return. Their words had opened old scars within me—wounds that I'd been fighting to close. Even after seven years I was still susceptible to their lunacy.

DeLigthfuls were a cult that dedicated themselves to spreading their idolization of death itself. They didn't commit crimes or force followers into anything, which allowed them to skirt around without getting in trouble. And combined with being more akin to idea than organization, allowed a largely unfettered and rampant spread throughout Japan.

Persona non grata.

I slumped back into a wall then slid towards the floor. Groups of people were waltzing by as I waited for Asagiri outside our theater room. The hallway housed multiple doorways into other screen rooms, all of which could've contained DeLightfuls in wait. Unbridled pessimism within me fully expected the couple to return and finish me off—proselytize me into a religion that almost obliterated Noriko years ago.

My fatigued eyes peaked down the hall. Every passerby, from an old lady with a cane to a man carrying his young daughter, seemed like predators waiting for moments of weakness. Gradual nausea unleashed onslaughts of ringing in my ears that made staying conscious difficult.

Then, footsteps.

"Whaaaaaaat? That you, Nishikata?" A familiar voice rang.

I glanced up and witnessed a hulking, muscular titan standing ahead of me. His white tank top that looked two sizes too small hugged his poignant pecs and chiseled abs. His biceps were so brawny they made his clean, bald head look like just another muscle. And the thin, attractive woman nestled under his arm was akin to a nut positioning itself between the teeth of a nutcracker.

"Mo-Mogami?" I stammered. "What are you doing here?"

His spare hand lifted up his sunglasses and revealed gentle, hazel eyes. "What's it look like? I'm on a date! And you?"

I tried to calm myself. No way could he learn I was with a government-issued girlfriend. "I, uh, just came to check out a new movie."

"By yourself?" Mogami replied. Both he and his girlfriend shot me a skeptical look.

"Y-Yeah . . ." Please be taking a huge shit, Asagiri.

Mogami peered up towards the movie title above my theater room, then brought a spare hand to his chin. "Not something I'd call work off for, but whatever. Was Honeybees that intense though?"

"What do you mean?"

"No lie bro—you look more traumatized than my Ex after she saw big dick for the first time, haha!"

"H-Hey, Momo!" The girl under his arm looked up in disapproval. "We said no talking about past partners!"

"Oh, you're way better than her, babe! Just too used to speaking my mind, ahaha!"

Aoto Mogami was one of seven coworkers and something of a friend. He'd often try inviting me to the gym or mixers after work, but those places were too extroverted for me. To my envy, every month he was seemingly dating a new girl, and always hotter than the last.

"Guess horror and me don't mix well," I chuckled. “Maybe I’ll stick to romcom and isekai's.”

“Wish hard enough and Dominion’s Paradise might get animated someday!” Mogami smiled. He knew my interests well. “But I’ll get out of your hair. My lady here wants to hurry and give me a good time!”

"Geez, you’re embarrassing me!" she chided, then proceeded to trace his pecs with her finger.

Maybe I should shave my head too . . . "Yeah, see you at work tomorrow, man."

He gave me a thumbs up. “Bet! I’ll make sure Asada and Kikuchi don’t bully you! As much!"

“Please do."


Mogami and his date strolled down the long hallway. As their outlines slowly shrunk in the distance, Mogami’s head turned towards a tanned girl in red that walked in his opposite direction. They made brief eye contact and went about their ways.

Asagiri spotted me lying back on the wall and sprinted over. “Hey, you don’t look so good. Everything cool?”

Thank God she didn’t see me with Mogami. “Yeah. Just a bit tired, no problem.”

"Press X to doubt."

"Okay, I could do without the cringe."

She glared at me like a concerned mom, then reached into her shorts and pulled out a lollipop. “Here.”


“Suck on it. Maybe it’ll make you feel better.”

“I’m not sure you should be prescribing medical advice.”

“Prescribe deez' nuts." She defiantly unwrapped the red lollipop and held it to my face. “Dying on me would make me look bad; come on."

I snatched the candy from her fingers and brought it into my mouth. A pungent, cherry flavor spread throughout me. “Happy?”


“Didn’t I do what you asked?”

“Yeah, but now I got nothing to suck on.”

Her bad joke generated an idea. “Hmmm. Think I know where we should head next.”

“Still wanna keep the date up?" Honest concern in her voice was apparent. "We can go home, you know. Don't need to push yourself."

Wifewifewifewifewifewifewife. “Nah, let’s visit an ice cream place. From all the stuff you’re always eating, I’m guessing sweets are your kinda thing."

Her eyes lit up like a little girl's then quickly blinked away. “W-Well, if you’re paying for everything guess I can’t complain.”

Seeing her tsundere reaction brought a devious smile to my face.  “We could go to that love hotel after too!"

“Stupid, don’t ruin the moment with bad one-liners,” she said as she held out her hand for me. “Let's go, Nishikata.”

"Lead the way." I reached up and let her tug me to my feet. She was even softer than before.

We trekked down the theater hall into crowds of people, a warm hand guiding the way.


The commuter train raced along its tracks as a setting sun poured into an empty train car. Asagiri on my left sat almost shoulder to shoulder with me. Her tired face was something I hadn’t quite seen before. Cute.

“Were you that bored today?” I asked, looking towards her. "Must have been a lame date if it put you to sleep."

“Nah,” she yawned. “Movies and ice cream were fun. Maybe we should go out more often.”

“Easy to say when you don’t pay for anything.”

The bee girl backpack on her lap almost slipped off as Asagiri’s head leaned onto my shoulder and snuggled into it.  “Hey, Nishikata,” she whispered.

“What’s up?”

“You don’t think I’m annoying or anything, right?”

“Only a little.”

She snuggled into me more. “Maybe it’s a good thing I stayed up late and read Dominion’s Paradise.”

“Huh?" I craned my neck to try seeing her eyes. "Read it at your own pace; don't gotta rush it for me."

“Quicker the better." For just a moment, I caught a glimpse of her glittering, ocean-blue eyes. "Guys like it when their girlfriend is into the same stuff as them, right?"

Actually true. “Well, I wouldn’t force you to do anything either.”

“You’re a man, nothing wrong with being a bit more assertive . . .” Two of Asagiri's fingers danced on my thigh, close to my groin.

Hnnnggg, dangerous! Dangerous! "Is t-this another test?"

She smiled and retreated her hand back onto Bubbly on her lap. “That’s what I like about you, Nishikata. You’re hopelessly horny, but you still respect me. That’s something I’ve barely ever gotten in my stupid life.”


“Nothing—just a mooch remembering her past.”

"Right." Guess both of us have stuff we'd rather keep to ourselves. But honestly, who didn't?

The quiet train continued onwards for several minutes and would soon arrive at our station. Asagiri’s breathing had turned rhythmic, like she fell sound asleep.

I looked down at her soft, brunette head on my shoulder. Twilight light from outside illuminated her angelic face. Who cares if she’ll leave one day? I won’t let DeLightfuls or anyone else ruin the one year I have with her!

“N-Nishikata . . .” Asagiri whispered.

“You awake? Keep sleeping if you want.”

“No . . . I wanna ask something.”


She lifted herself off my shoulder and gazed straight at me. Her tired yet spellbinding, azure eyes commanded me to focus.

“Are—Are you happy?” she stammered. 

What brought this on? “Yeah I'm happy. Why wouldn’t I be?” 

Her eyes delved into my own, likely searching for any hints of deceit.

“If there’s something you ever want to talk about,” she started, “anything at all, I’m here for you. Don’t let emotions stay cooped inside until it’s too late.”

"Thanks, but I’m fine. You’ve already helped me more than you can imagine.”

Her face bounced between annoyed and sad, finally settling on a smile. “Okay. Guess I’m doing a good job then.”

I grabbed the Bubbly plushie and dropped it into Asagiri's hands. “Didn’t know it was your job to keep me happy. Pretty sure it's mine though."

Another warm smile then Asagiri planted her head back onto my shoulder. “Now you have no idea.”

She left her spare hand open between us, as if inviting me to hold it. Maybe treating myself to more softness would be nice.

As I reached over to her, my phone vibrated with a text notification. Huh? I redirected my hand into my pocket and slipped out the device. Asagiri’s breath turned rhythmic again, signaling her departure to Dreamville.

Probably Nemoto asking to play Semtex Legends, I thought. But as the text preview loaded, a name appeared that hurled torrents of emotions through me. I immediately unlocked and dug into my inbox. Thoughts rushed to make sense of things.

Of all people, of all times, why did Noriko choose now to try coming back into my life? After months of no contact and several years before that—but perhaps with how intertwined our pasts were, meeting again was inevitable. 

I read her message, over and over:

'Hey, sorry for being gone. Is it cool if I drop by sometime?' The first woman I ever loved said.
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