Chapter 16:

On the Hunt

We Are ☆ Star Club!

 I woke up with a giant bug on my face.


I screamed, still half asleep, desperately trying to get that crawly critter away from me.

"Huh? What's wrong?" Arisu asked, dangling the bug in front of my face.

"Get that away from me," I hissed, hiding under my covers.

Outside, I could hear my mom come up the stairs. I showed my face again to Arisu, and I was sure she saw the panic on it.


She didn't say anything more, and instead, crawled under my bed, taking the bug with her. By now, she knew every hiding spot in my room, and sometimes even hid there to scare me. I still hadn't talked to my parents about her, and didn't plan on doing so. How am I supposed to explain the alien living with me, right?

"Honey, is everything alright?"

Mom opened the door, and I could see her worried face. I tried to calm myself down as much as possible.

"It's nothing," I answered her, "I just saw a bug."

"Ew." She looked even more disgusted than I had felt. "Where? Should I call your dad?"

"No, you don't need to do that."

I tried to breathe as calmly as possible. Don't think about that bug. Oh, I hope Arisu still has it in her hands...

Mom stayed outside of the room, probably out of fear of the insect, and instead, just looked around.

"Are you sure?"


I stretched, just as I normally did, and even let out a yawn.

"Well, at least I'm properly awake now."

Her mouth twitched, and I was sure she was suppressing a shudder.

"That's great, honey. I guess I'll watch for any other bugs today..."

With that thought, she closed the door and hurried down the stairs. Mere seconds later, Arisu slid out from under my bed with the help of her hair. She was holding the bug close to her chest, its legs wriggling around, the antennae exploring its surroundings. The sight of it made me sick, so I quickly looked away.

"Please, put that thing outside. This does not belong in my room."

"Oh, okay."

She sounded genuinely sad, but still, she opened the window without arguing and gently let the bug out, waving at it with her hands and hair. I went up to her and slammed the window shut. Only then my heartbeat seemed to return to a normal speed.


I never wanted to see a bug again after this. Why does summer have to be cursed by these things? I can't enjoy it fully with the threat of creepy crawlies around! Oh, what if more are hiding somewhere? Would Arisu tell me? Or would she just use them to spook me again?

"What are we going to do today?"

I looked up at the ceiling. While the heat was still bearable right now, it would get hotter and hotter the longer the day went on. Also, it was the weekend, so there wasn't really anything I wanted to do, if I was being honest.

"I don't know," I answered her finally. "Do you have anything in mind?"

Arisu nodded, and only then did I realize that she might have waited for this question.

"So. I have heard-" I was sure that meant ‘read it on the internet with the help of PURIRIN’, "-that humans partake in this hobby called 'insect collecting'. I want to try that."


I must have misheard her. After that whole chaos just now she wanted to see more of those things?

"Well, apparently we could go out into nature, look for insects, put them in little containers, and..."

I shook my head.

"And have them escape? No. I don't want to bring anything back that could possibly escape into my room."


She looked sad, and it make me feel guilty. She wasn't at fault for me hating insects. Still, just thinking about them made me shudder. But if she was interested in them...

"But... if you really want to look at bugs - and only look at them, okay? - then we can go into the forest, or something."

I let out a breath. Maybe I was promising too much here, but I felt bad for her. And while she could look at the bugs as much as she liked, I could keep my distance. It was probably the best compromise we could find, without leaving her unhappy or me scared to go back to my room.


Her eyes sparkled, and she was bouncing with energy. I sighed, slowly getting ready. So much for a relaxing weekend.

The air in the streets was hot, so walking underneath tall trees of the forest felt refreshing. In the direct heat of the sun, almost nothing seemed to move, but here in the shade provided by the leaves, the air was literally buzzing. Beside me, Arisu went off the trail, looking down for a bit, then up: everywhere she looked at, she could see bugs, and she pointed them all out to me. To be honest, I could have lived without that knowledge. There were too many of those things crawling and flying around for me to let my guard down. At least they didn't attack me or anything. Once or twice, a beetle bumbled against my flower patterned shirt, but most of them drifted towards Arisu, probably mistaking her attire for real flowers.

I blinked. Somehow, I never questioned her clothes. Even though it was so hot that even breathing made me sweat, she was still wearing layers over layers of colorful fabric. Everywhere that wasn't covered -and even parts that were - she was wearing accessories, the plastic of the cute charms making light sounds as they clicked against each other. It was quite peculiar, and reminded me of those 'Decora Kei' girls, as loud and bright as her. While it suited her, no doubt, I still couldn't believe that this was her idea of blending in with the rest of us humans. Still, I couldn't help but ask her about it.

"Huh? Why I'm dressed like this?"

She looked down at herself, and found another bug between her many necklaces.

"Oh! Look at that! Haha, a new friend."

She held the insect out for me to inspect, but I shied away from it. Only then did she remember that I said something, and tilted her head as the bug flew off.

"Wait, what did you ask?"

"Why are you dressed like that?"

I gestured helplessly at her. The more I say, the worse it gets, I thought.

"I mean, I get the hair color. I think? But, that's not how most humans dress, you know."

"I know," she pouted, crossing her arms. "It's just what I like to wear."

I nodded slowly. It made sense, but something about her words seemed... off. The way she looked at me was almost angry.

"Urgh, I can't believe you'd bring it up!"

I flinched. Why was she so upset? Was the question that bad?

"I'm sorry?"

"No, no."

She took a deep breath, calming down again.

"It's just... I got the same comments from my parents, you know? I mean, I managed to convince them that this was normal Earthling attire, but..."

Again, I nodded.

"It was still weird to them that you're dressed like a... like an Earthling, right?"


She huffed, and let herself fall on the soft, warm forest ground. She looked up at me.

"Do you think I'm weird?"

I hesitated for a second. How can you even answer such a question?

"Not any weirder than me," I said at last.

It was true, though. All my life, I had been a weirdo. But now I had found other weirdos, like Maria, and Erica, and Pudding. I felt like it wasn't that different from what Arisu was experiencing. Still, I had trouble to put my thoughts and feelings into words.

"You're part of the astronomy club. We're all weird," I said lamely.

She shook her head.

"No, you're not weird."

I crouched down next to her.

"Well, then you're not weird, too."

Out here in nature, her neon green hair looked even more unnatural than usually. But without its bright color, something would be missing about her. That was the only thought going through my head as I watched her, her eyes twinkling with the light of distant stars. Funny, how similar we are.

"Oh! Look at that."

She reached out her hand and touched my ear. When she pulled it back again, I saw the big, black spider on her finger.

"Oh no. No no nonononono! We're going home!," I shrieked.

While my heart was racing and I only wanted to run away, Arisu laughed. Somehow, that pulled me back to reality.

"Sorry, sorry. I was just having some fun. Lighten the mood, you know?"

I exhaled. She looked slightly sorry, but there was still a big grin on her face. I touched my neck, but the warmth of my hand was the only thing I could feel there.

"That thing wasn't actually on me, was it?"

She shook her head. Instantly, relief flooded through me. Around us, little flying insects were dancing, lit up by golden light. When I looked up, I saw the sky through the leaves had turned into a lovely peach color.

"I think it's time to go home," I said, standing up.

"I guess."

Arisu sighed, but started to get up, shaking bits of moss and dried leaves from her clothes, making her accessories clink. I watched her, giggling. It only earned me a questioning look from her.

"It's very you, " I explained myself, "The whole outfit."

"Well, thank you," she replied with her bright smile.