Chapter 7:

Mogami the Chadness

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

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

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. Bookmark here

I used my shoulder to push open the movie theater hallway door. Trash on my tray quickly found itself in a bin, and then I stacked the tray nearby.Bookmark here

Words from the earlier DeLightful couple still irked me. Even after seven years I was still susceptible to their lunacy.Bookmark here

DeLigthfuls were a cult that steadily rose to prominence in Japan, dedicated to spreading their idolization of death itself. They don’t commit crimes or force followers into anything—and combined with being more akin to idea than organization—allowed a largely unfettered and rampant spread throughout the country.Bookmark here

Groups of people walked by me as I stood waiting for Asagiri outside our theater room. The hallway housed multiple doorways into other screen rooms, all of whom might've contained DeLightfuls. I fully expected that couple to return and finish me off; to proselytize me into the ideology I excised from my friend years ago.Bookmark here

My fatigued eyes peaked down the hall. Every passerby seemed like an enemy, waiting to pounce. Nausea made my head spin as ringing engulfed my ears. A wall behind saved me from collapsing.Bookmark here

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

I glanced up and saw a hulking, muscular titan standing ahead. He wore gym apparel and had a bald head with masculine facial features. The attractive woman under his arm gave me a confused expression.Bookmark here

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

"What's it look like? I'm on a date!" he said with pride. "And you?"Bookmark here

I tried to compose myself. No way could he learn I was with a GiG. "I, uh, just came to check out a new movie."Bookmark here

"By yourself?"Bookmark here

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

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

"What do you mean?"Bookmark here

"No lie bro, you look more traumatized than my Ex after she saw big dick for the first time."Bookmark here

"H-Hey, Momo!" The girl under his arm looked up in disapproval.Bookmark here

"Oh, you're way better than her, babe! Too used to speaking my mind, haha!" Bookmark here

Aoto Mogami was a coworker and something of a friend. He'd often try inviting me to the gym or mixers after work, but those places rubbed me wrong. Every month he was seemingly dating a new girl, always hotter than the last. Bookmark here

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

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

“Geez, you’re embarrassing me!” she chided.Bookmark here

Maybe I should consider shaving my head too if I'd score half as much. "Yeah, see you at work tomorrow then."Bookmark here

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

“Thanks . . .”Bookmark here

"Ciao!"Bookmark here

Mogami and his date strolled down the hallway. As their outlines slowly shrunk, 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. Bookmark here

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

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

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

“Huh?” Bookmark here

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

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

“Prescribe deez' nuts,” she said defiantly, unwrapping the red lollipop. “Dying on me would make me look bad.” Bookmark here

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

“No.” Bookmark here

“Didn’t I do what you asked?” Bookmark here

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

She was just trying to excite me, but the joke generated an idea. “Hmmm. Think I know where we should head next.” Bookmark here

“Still wanna keep the date up? We can go home, you know.” Bookmark here

“Nah, let’s visit an ice cream place. From all the stuff you’re always eating, I’m guessing you love sweets.” Bookmark here

For a split moment her eyes lit up like a little girl’s. “W-Well, if you’re paying for everything I can’t complain.” Bookmark here

Wasn't sure why, but I felt some satisfaction in seeing her happy. “We could go to that love hotel after too," I added.Bookmark here

“Stupid, don’t ruin the moment with bad one-liners,” she said as she laced her fingers into mine. She was even softer than before. “Come on, let's go.” Bookmark here

We trekked down the theater hall into crowds of people, a warm hand leading the way for me.Bookmark here

*Bookmark here

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 seen before. Bookmark here

“Were you that bored today?” I asked, looking towards her.Bookmark here

“Nah,” she said. “Movies and ice cream were fun. Maybe we should date more often.” Bookmark here

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

The Bubbly bee girl backpack on her lap almost slipped off as Asagiri’s head leaned onto my shoulder. Bookmark here

“Hey, Nishikata,” she whispered. Bookmark here

“What’s up?” Bookmark here

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

“Only a little.” Bookmark here

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

“Huh? You can read it at your own pace, don't gotta rush it for me."Bookmark here

“Quicker the better. Guys like it when their girlfriend is into the same stuff as them.” Bookmark here

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

“You’re a man, nothing wrong with being a bit more assertive . . .” Two of her fingers danced on my thigh. Bookmark here

Hnnnggg, dangerous! Dangerous!Bookmark here

Her hand retreated onto Bubbly. “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.”Bookmark here

“Hmmm?”Bookmark here

“Oh, nothing. Just a mooch remembering her past.” Bookmark here

The train continued onwards for several minutes. Asagiri’s breathing turned rhythmic, like she fell asleep. Bookmark here

I looked down at her brown head on my shoulder. 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. Bookmark here

“Nishikata . . .” Asagiri whispered. Bookmark here

“You awake? Keep sleeping if you want.”Bookmark here

“No . . . I wanna ask something.” Bookmark here

“Oh?”Bookmark here

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

“Are—Are you happy?” she said. Bookmark here

“Happy? Why wouldn’t I be?” Oh wait. Bookmark here

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

“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.” Bookmark here

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

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

“Didn’t know it was your job to keep me happy.” Bookmark here

She planted her head back on my shoulder. “Now you have no idea.” Bookmark here

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

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. Bookmark here

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 unlocked and dug into my inbox. Bookmark here

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

I read her message, over and over: Bookmark here

Hey, sorry for being gone. Is it cool if I drop by sometime? The first woman I ever loved said.
You can resume reading from this paragraph.