Chapter 22:

Love is War

My Childhood Best Friend is a VTuber! (OsananaV)


“How does this battle start? What are the rules?”

As I sit here on the phone with Koi, an uncomfortable feeling boils up in my chest. I have no idea how this game even works.

How does one plan and win a battle of wits?

“The rules are easy, every time someone cannot respond to the other with something witty or take longer than five seconds to respond, they lose a point.”

This is a game of elimination?

“Each person has three points to start, meaning that if someone fumbles on their answer three times, they lose.”

I see, so basically, we just have to keep the conversation going – this sounds easy enough. I feel as if all my previous encounters with Koi, Sakura and even Chika have prepared me for this moment.

If this was a shounen anime, then that would have been my training arc.

Sitting back on my chair and putting my legs up on my desk, I get comfortable. I take one glance at the Mayu figure on my wall, and one glance at Mayu and friends on my screen, saying a little prayer.

May the dokiest of demons and the most kawaii of angels have mercy on me, forgive me for how I must destroy my junior like this, it is for the greater good. Give me the strength to tackle her dim wit and exceed it with even greater lines.

In the name of the Mayu, the magical girl and the holy maid.

Amen.

“Are you there, do you understand the rules?”

Sakura’s high-pitched voice startles me back into reality from the eternal void of cringe, giving me the jolt I need to be fully energized.

“Yes, I was just saying a prayer.”

Showing Sakura that I have the strength of the great Queen of Moe behind me may strike fear into her heart. This is a mental game, after all.

“Saying your prayers already? The game has only just started, and it seems like I’ve already won.”

Wait, what did she just say?

The game has already begun?

But we only just started discussing the rules!

“Two…”

“One…”

The sound of Sakura’s counting bellows through my ears; it feels like the timer is going by too fast, but her voice is so slow – a terrifying mix of pressure and emotion.

Her counting tactic puts me in a panic and my head goes empty.

Wait!

“I’m not say-“

“Time’s up! Point for Sakura! Wooohooo!”

Life has no meaning.

Is there really nothing sacred in this world?

I pull my feet down from the desk, planting them firmly on the floor as I prepare my next quip.

“That was a dirty trick!”

“You think I’m dirty and tricky? Akira, you’re such a sleaze.”

That’s a Chika line! Sakura, you can’t just take other characters’ jokes like that!

Fortunately for me, I have had recent experience in receiving such jokes and can prepare well for my response.

“Dirty? Yes, but not for the reasons you’d think. Unfortunately, not tricky though, if it were me I’d say you’re rather easy.”

This feels like a low, low blow; even to Sakura, I feel like this one was too far.

“Oh? You don’t say. I didn’t know you were so familiar with easy women, maybe I should keep Koi away from you.”

I take it back, she brought Koi into this! She deserved every second of that.

Thoughts of Koi circulate through my mind at a rapid pace, memories of our time together last week and my constant struggles to find her these past few days.

Which has all brought me to here, this moment.

I cannot lose this fight!

“Aaaaaand, time’s up! Another point for Sakura. Are you even trying?”

What?

In thinking about Koi, I got distracted and lost track of time. There wasn’t even the sound of counting that time.

Wait.

I’ve been thinking about this game all wrong.

My breathing intensifies as I replay Sakura’s moves back in my head. Her abrupt start and playing dirty, taking my mind off things, and then bringing up Koi.

There is more to this than just coming up with fast and witty comebacks; the game also lies in setting up a line that the other person can’t respond to or saying something that will make them stop for a second.

Like how Sakura brought up Koi.

This is psychological warfare. Coming up with something witty is just half of it.

She purposely didn’t remind me of the time just then, she was doing it before but because her attack relied on me getting distracted from the game, she didn’t want to accidentally remind me.

Before it was about putting pressure on me to fumble, this time it was about getting me to subconsciously leave the game for a moment.

I can feel my grip on the phone intensifying with every second.

“Helllooooo! Are you there?”

Sakura didn’t play like this before in our last match – she’s levelled up. I guess she wasn’t lying when she said that she’d be honing her skills after I spoke with her last.

The score is two for Sakura and none for me.

If she wins the next one, that’s it – game over.

The beginning of vile servitude for Akira.

“Have you left already? That’s sad, I didn’t even get t-“

“When someone leaves while they’re on the phone, they just hang up, they don’t go quiet all of a sudden.”

Yes, Akira. This is the time for your comeback. Don’t give her any room to respond.

“One…”

“Two…”

“I didn’t mean that you’d left the phone, I thought you’d left the land of the living.”

Shit.

I didn’t think she’d have a return for that one; she also hasn’t left me a whole lot of room to come up with anything in response.

Think, Akira. Think.

“It wouldn’t be a problem if I ended up in hell, because at least my call would have better connection to you.

Yes! I finally thought of something on the spot. I do feel a little guilty about that one too, but we’re taking the safety off for this match. No holding back.

“Three…”

“Four…”

Now just to make sure she can’t respond, I use her tactic of counting to just increase the pressure.

“Five…”

I can hear the start of sentences from Koi, but it’s like she can’t manage to form anything cohesive.

“That’s time!”

My first victory!

I jump out into the air, sending my chair flying behind me with a solid crash.

“Someone sounds happy; I’ve won two already, it was about time you managed to get one.”

She’s right, I can’t get ahead of myself.

She’s still one point away from victory, whereas I need two in order to steal a win and get the answers about Koi that I need.

I look back at the chair on my floor and realise I don’t have enough time to go pick it up and think of a quippy comeback for Sakura’s advances at the same time.

This next round will have to be done standing up.

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