“I thought I was very clear when I told you I am not an angel. I would greatly appreciate it if you didn’t insult me with that name!”
The ones that had turned to leave suddenly gathered back together after hearing Emma call out the name of the culprit that put them in this predicament.
Yusei looked at Cupid wearing the bus driver's uniform, confused.
“How long have you been here!? What happened to the bus driver!?”
“People will see your halo!” Emma pointed at Cupid’s head.
“Oh, don’t worry about that, only you six can see me. But enough about me, I’m here on less important business. What’s this I hear about you guys being miserable after being granted a second chance at life? Are you ingrates? Did your mothers not teach you any manners?”
“You didn’t give us enough information, man!”
“Uh, I know that.”
“Huh? It was on purpose?”
“On purpose? Listen to you. No, my little yellow cauliflower, I simply ran out of time, and you were crowding me– specially red over here. I told you, I needed some time for my eleven-step skincare routine. I never thought you would be this impatient, though, sheesh.”
The more he talked, the tighter Yusei clenched his fist.
“Enough of your games, you clown! You better answer all of our questions!”
“Oh, my. Are you sure you want to do that? Do you want me to zip up your lips again that badly?”
Yusei froze in place. He did not want his lips zipped again, no.
Cupid savored his reaction.
“What is it you want to know? I assume by now you have some specific questions, yes?”
The moment he said that, all six of them assaulted him with questions at the same time, talking over each other. Cupid recoiled, and waved his hand to zip up all their lips, silencing them immediately.
Ren, like all the others, was carefully unzipping his mouth. The zipper disappeared once he was done opening it, and Cupid looked at him condescendingly.
“You, voice of the people, Mr. Politician. Go.”
It took Ren a second to figure out he was talking to him. Then another second to think of the best way to phrase the question all of them wanted to ask.
“…I think there’s one thing we all want to know more than anything. Are you going to tell us who our targets are?”
“Oh. That’s it?”
“Obviously, I am. How else are you supposed to play this game?”
All their faces lit up with unexpected hope.
All except Ren, who still looked skeptical.
“If that’s the case, why didn’t you tell us who they were from the start?”
“Because, silly goose, none of you know either of them. So you wouldn’t be able to find them in the first place.”
After hearing this, there was a general sense of relief in the air.
All their doubts - their fears about the person being someone they know, or the person being someone one of the other five loved that could put Ren’s democratic plan in jeopardy… all those insecurities dissipated into thin air.
Still, there was another question Ren wanted to ask.
“But they do go to our school, right?”
“Of course they do. I hate taking up jobs in different locations. It’s such a hassle to keep track of you kids, and this way you’re all gathered together at the same place for a good amount of hours a day.”
Rika shook her head and whispered in Airi’s direction.
“Man, this guy’s lazy as hell…”
“Who are they?” Ren asked before Cupid had a chance to react poorly to her commentary.
It worked. Cupid only scoffed, then poofed into his hand a couple of files, just like the ones he held before with all their information.
He opened them and began to read.
“Their names are Agatha Fitzgerald and Adam Stoker.”
All six of them looked at each other.
They finally had the names of the students that inadvertently held the key to their lives.
“Just like all of you, they’re both sixteen, both have never experienced love, and both are - pause, for dramatic effect - here.”
Their voices raised in a chorus.
“Mhm. Both are right here at this—”
Cupid looked around. There were cabins everywhere and weary kids entering them as instructed by the couple of teachers that came with them.
“It’s a campsite!” Emma cheerfully corrected him. “See those little wood houses with the creaky doors and the paint peeling off? We get to stay there!”
Her description didn’t make the campsite sound any better than Cupid’s original assessment.
Rika shook her head.
“Why is it called a campsite when we’re not camping out in the first place…?”
“Oh, I don’t know,” Julius intervened. “Would you rather spend your nights inside a cold tent and a sleeping bag, or inside some semblance of modern civilization?”
“Heh. Of course you would think cavemen had sleeping bags,” Rika teased.
Julius didn’t find it funny at all.
“...That is not at all what I just said.”
“Ahem!” Cupid cleared his throat. “I thought you wanted to hear more about your assignment, yes? Then pay attention to me.”
For once, he got them all to look at him in silence.
“As I was saying, Agatha and Adam are special cases, even amongst teens.”
He nodded, looking at his files.
“Agatha can be quite shy, but is friendly enough. My biggest challenge with her is that I can never get her to fall for anyone that isn’t 2D.”
Airi brought her hand to her lips, then blinked.
“Huh? 2D? As in…?”
“Yes, my child, as in animated characters. Though nowadays it’s all done through 3D computer models, so can that truly be called 2D?”
“I don’t mind it! They’re more colorful now!” Emma claimed, raising her hand.
Yusei ignored the sudden tangent and made a disgusted face.
“Wait, this Agatha girl is an otaku!? And we gotta make her fall in love with us? Hard pass.”
Cupid put a hand on his hips and looked at him with a devilish smile.
“Fufu. You think you’re too good for that, you little delinquent?”
Yusei almost popped a vein on his forehead, challenging Cupid to repeat what he just said.
Meanwhile Emma looked at her own fists with a look of excitement, thinking about this girl— someone else in this field trip who was likely to be interested in the same things she was, no doubt.
“An otaku… I wonder if she’s also into tokusatsu, or 2.5D!?”
Her interest in this girl made Ren a little curious, too. He didn’t always know what Emma was talking about, but he couldn’t help but look at her and ask, a little confused, as if trying to find out just how scared he should be about this girl Agatha and Emma hitting it off.
“Actors!” Emma responded immediately, looking at him with her eyes full of passion. “But not just any actors! These are people that play characters in live action theater productions based on anime or videogames!”
Of course, Ren thought.
“They’re pretty cool, but not as cool as tokusatsu heroes, like the Ultra Metal Rangers!”
Of course times two.
Rika laughed under her breath, slightly endeared.
“So Emma’s into that, huh…”
Emma took that as a compliment and nodded.
“Yeah! Maybe I’ll become friends with Agatha!”
“Friends? ...Why not go the extra mile? Why not try to seduce her, too?”
“Hey—” Ren interrupted. “Let’s hear about the other person, first.”
Cupid had been busy zipping up Yusei’s mouth again - ineffective, as all Yusei had to do was unzip it to be able to speak again, but it did the job when it came to quieting down someone for a moment.
He looked at them again, exasperated.
“Good God in Heaven, you guys need to mind your manners when an adult is talking to you, you know? Now, where was I… ”
He flipped through his files again, opening up the second one this time, pressing his finger on the page.
“Ah, yes. Adam Stoker!”
At last, the second target’s identity was about to be fully revealed.
They all stayed quiet, waiting for his description.
“Unlike Agatha, this kid is not friendly at all. On the contrary, people tend to avoid him out of fear. There’s a rumor he pushed someone from a third floor window, and ever since, no one has ever spared a word to him, not even his teachers call on him during class. That’s all.”
He casually closed the file and poofed it away, surprised to find himself in front of six dropped jaws and wide-eyed looks of disbelief.