Chapter 28:

Don't Play Coy With Me!

My Childhood Best Friend is a VTuber! (OsananaV)

“I’ve seen her around before.”

Seen her around? Do people really talk about vtubers like that? It’s a virtual person, not someone you’d see down the street!

Koi looks at me like a guilty puppy – wide, glossy eyes spying around the room – as I question her on her knowledge of Mayu and vtubers in general.

Okay, that sounds like this is some super-serious police investigation type thing.

It’s no such situation!

Virtual streamers are a very new phenomenon and when something is very new, the public takes a while to adjust to it. In this adjustment period, finding other fans or even people who are open to the new concept can be somewhat of an event in itself.

When you’re a shut-in like me, that particular situation is akin to getting rare drops in a video game.

Something very special.

“Enough to know what particular things she says on stream, even so much so as to hearing multiple renditions?”

This is what her statement seems to have implied, after all.

That was the saddest version of that I’ve ever heard.

Only people highly engrossed in the fandom would have ever been in a situation where they’d heard multiple other fans do a Mayu impression.

I don’t even know if I’ve seen anyone do one!

“You could say that.”

Koi is helplessly trying to keep it low-key, but I can see her squirming, I can see her inner otaku wanting to come out and gush about this topic. I know these feelings well; the idea that you have to hide who you are around others, it leaves you almost bursting at the seams when topics like these come up.

“Don’t play coy with me.”

That one I am especially proud of.

“You’re not playing with Koi, you’re playing with Sakura, remember?”

As if waiting for the chance to move from the defensive into the offensive position, Koi pushes her body forward on the table – her chest perched up on the side.

Is this a tactic in its own right?

“If you deflected any harder, I’d have to call you a force field.”

“Call me a force field then, I need one to keep away creeps like you.”

There is silence for a moment, maybe even a few moments.

The air is still and if we weren’t indoors, I’d feel like I could hear the breeze pass by.

Koi covers her face with her hand before the two of us burst out into laughter simultaneously.

Like a wholesome chorus, orchestrated for this very moment.

Her cute, high-pitched giggles drown out everything in sight.

I forgot what we were even talking about in the first place, but I feel like all the residual tension that had built up in my body just dissipated.

“Don’t play coy with me was a pretty good one!”

She breaks up her laughter to compliment my pun as a tear comes to my eye – it feels so nice to receive some sort of positivity from her.

It’s like completing a level on an extremely challenging game; the time to get there was fun and gruelling but the feeling of getting through it is eternal happiness.

“You didn’t have to follow it up with something so harsh, that last one almost made me feel bad.”

It felt nice to be with Koi like this; even if all the jabs and all the crap is to avoid talking like regular humans or deflecting from certain topics – it warms my heart to see us laugh like this.

“Almost made you feel bad? You are the first guy in the world who isn’t completely shattered by being called a creep!”

Over the course of the last few days, I feel like I’ve been called a great many number of names, mostly by you and your sister at that.

My head hangs low as I reminisce about the pain you two have both caused me.

Sniffle. Sniffle.

“I hope you’re both having a lovely evening.”

The waiter, who is totally not dressed as a butler, brings out our food and lays it on the table before we starting digging in.

“Thanks for the food!”

We sit in silence for a while, which I guess isn’t all that abnormal considering we are both eating food.

Our regular conversations tend to take up a whole lot of energy and focus, so maintaining them while doing other activities is hard enough as it is.

Usually, we just speed through topic after topic, seemingly never getting anywhere on one thing but at least exploring a whole lot.

I guess this is what they call tangential speech - the constant shifting of the conversation to a point where it is almost indistinguishable from the original subject.

All because of our quips…

There are so many things that I know I actually want to talk to Koi about.

Like proper talk.

That vtuber conversation was fun, but we didn’t really get far with it – she is more adamant about hiding all that than I had initially anticipated.

I still never figured out why she ditched me last time we hung out – after we started talking about her job.

To top it all off, I came on this date to talk to Sakura about the bomb she dropped on me at the end of our call.

Some part of me feels like all these things are connected in a way, but I just can’t figure out how.

Koi is a very private person and I’m okay with that, it’s not like I’m trying to uncover her secrets and pry where I don’t belong. There’s a reason she is guarded, and I respect that.

I mean maybe I didn’t before, with trying to get her number and all. It’s possible that walking into a maid café where she could work wasn’t the best idea. Well, maybe even calling her sister for more information about her is questionable, to say the least.

Wow, this really doesn’t make me look that great.

I just wish she’d open up to me about things; we’ve known each other most of our lives at this point.

All of this running around, this chaos and everything that has brought this shut-in to become a busybody outside has made me realise…

She’s someone I care about.

She’s someone I want to spend more time with at a point in my life when I thought I only wanted to spend time with Mayu.

This back and forth is fun, but it’s also activating some sort of masochistic desire that I don’t think I have.

My eyes look up from my food and onto Koi, peacefully eating her dinner as if she hadn’t just marathoned through a myriad of different emotions in the last hour. There is an unassuming and playful innocence in her eyes, despite hurling insults at me left and right.

She lifts up her head and locks eyes with me before blushing and turning away.


“So, uh, you never told me why you called Sakura in the first place.”

This is the one topic I was hoping to avoid.

I’m pretty open about a lot of things and it would be hypocritical of me to want Koi to open up more while maintaining secrets myself.

But no good can come out of what I’m about to say next.

Liber Mercury