Love, Manga & Blackmail: A Secret Otaku's Countdown To Romance!
Landing in the midst of the crowd, I spotted two podiums on the stage, along with a host holding question cards. It seemed to be a game centered around the Lilia-chan anime and manga, where contestants from the crowd answered questions to win a prize.
Boo, so this isn’t a Lilia-chan concert? Just some plain old event? Where’s my magical girl?!
Nevertheless, after I briefed Ichika on the deets, she gave me a grin.
“We’re entering.” She said, her nose raised to high heavens like some high class noble.
Hm, does she really think she can beat ME of all people when it comes to trivia on Lilia the magical girl?
“Deal.” I scoffed, and soon it was our turn on the podiums. After I wore my hat in order to hide my identity, of course.
“Oh?” The host, dressed in all pink, typical of Lilia-chan, looked at us in puzzlement. However, as I observed him closely, it became apparent that something was wrong.
Judging from the visible bags under his eyes, his lifeless look and flat tone, only a single thought came to mind.
He looks… dead inside!
“A couple…?” He uttered with indifference, as we took to the podiums. His words though, had caused a fair share of boos to erupt from the probably maiden-less otakus in the crowd.
“C-Couple…?” Ichika muttered to herself,. “We’re not really… ah, I guess we are… but it’s not like… we… uh…”
As the girl on the podium besides me tripped over her words, the host cleared his throat and began explaining the rules, assuming we were unaware.
“I will read aloud a set of questions related to the anime and manga of “The Magical Girl, Lilia-chan!”… Whoever gets the most answers correct, wins.” With a painfully forced pose, and with a cheap microphone in hand, he pivoted on his left leg sluggishly and spun around like a fairy. How much are they even paying this guy?
“…In case one of you answers more than 10 questions correctly, then they will win a plushie toy of Lilia-chan’s companion and assistant, Pingin-san…”
Pingin? That was indeed Lilia-chan’s assistant! Of course, as you might have guessed, Pingin was a purple overweight penguin. Perfectly suited for a plushie however, might I add.
“Challenge accepted!” Ichika slammed her palms on the podium, raring to go.
I wasn't about to back down either. With a smirk, I leaned forward as the challenge began.
The host fired questions at us with his lifeless voice, but our excitement overshadowed his lack of enthusiasm. We were so pumped up that you could feel the tension in the air.
“In which episode, and manga volume did Pingin make his debut…?”
Raising my hand like a man possessed, I receive the go ahead from the host, overtaking Ichika.
“Episode 4, volume 2.” Calm and collected, I give my answer.
“Tch.” My fake girlfriend clicked her tongue, passing me a competitive stare.
“Hm.” I smirk, as the host continued.
“What was the spell with which Lilia-chan defeated the oni, Ava, called?”
Oh, that’s eas—
“Super Sparkly Ray!”
Before I could even react, Ichika had already raised her hand, and blurted out the name of the spell in one fell swoop.
“Damn it!” I hissed as I looked over at my rival, defeated.
“Mhm!” She in turn, threw her tongue out, in an attempt to taunt me.
“Oh, it’s on!”
It’s safe to say she succeeded.
With my fighting spirit burning strong within me, I pushed through the uncertainly and dove headfirst into battle.
I couldn’t be outdone by her!
“What was Pingin’s and Lilia-chan’s first mission?”
“Apprehending an escaped cat-criminal!”
“In which episode did Lillia-chan say the following words as a means of encouragement—“
“In what manner did Lil—“
“With a broom!”
The competition intensified as we answered question after question, reaching the final one. We were tied at 9 points, and whoever answered correctly would win the plushie and hold the overall victory.
Question number 19!
I cracked my knuckles as I mentally prepared the pool of knowledge and experience within my head.
You can do this, Haruhi! There’s nobody out there who knows more about Lilia-chan than you do!
All my brainpower was focused solely on the next question, as the host raised his last card high in a showcase of drama and nerves. He couldn’t really hold his arm high like that though, without it falling to his side shortly after. This man really needs some rest…
“This last question wins it all…”
We all held our breaths.
“Which of Lillia-chan’s ornament plays the tune of the opening whenever used?”
Without hesitation, my hand shot up. I know the answer.
With a smirk, I look at the dumbfounded Ichika and give my reply.
“That is correct.”
The crowd slowly starts clapping, as Ichika turns to give me a death stare.
“I demand a rematch!”
“No you don’t! We’ve been waiting for hours, for you guys!” Endo, who had joined the spectators, suddenly appeared on stage and grabbed Ichika's arm.
“Kirara?!” Dumbfounded, Ichika looked back at her.
“Yeah, we’ve been waiting!” Somebody from the crowd chided us too.
“Oh, shut up, you’re just a mob character!” Endo looked back towards the crowd, causing the ruckus that had ensued to die down like a candle’s flame in a storm.
Even so, I had won.
After being presented with the ultimate prize of victory, a Pingin plushie I honestly had no interest whatsoever in, the three of us walked off the stage towards Morishita waiting patiently by the side.
“Hey, guys…” He smiled wryly at my grinning face, and Ichika’s huffy defeated expression. “Congratulations, I guess?” Morishita looked at me, and held back a chuckle.
What was so funny about a grown ass teenager holding a big purple penguin plushie while looking on top of the world, I wonder?
“That was not fair…” Ichika chimed in from besides me, giving me quite the menacing side eye.
“I cannot believe Mistah Uke actually defeated Ichika on a trivia quiz!” Kirara, having gotten over her sudden feat of rage commented with a smirk.
Is she really gonna keep calling me that…?
Deciding to let it slide, I turn to Morishita.
“Is she good at those, or what?”
“Ichika? Sure she is! One of the best actually.”
“Hmmm…” I eyed her pouty expression, thinking over the whole ordeal. She definitely was a formidable opponent, although she was not able to defeat such a brilliant pool of useless info such as myself.
It did feel more like a race, than a contest of knowledge though, so I’ll give her that.
Under my scrutinizing gaze, Ichika seemed uncomfortable, squirming in her place.
Was it just me or was she eyeing the Pingin plushie just now?
“Aw, Ichika-chan is pouty….” Endo snickered.
“Shut up, Kirara…” Ichika shot back.
“Heh.” I chuckled for a moment.
Looking at the plushie in my hands, I heave a slight sigh.
Well, albeit a fake one, we are a couple, so….
“Here.” I present to her, one of the prices of my victory, the plushie. The other, the ultimate one, was my sense of satisfaction after all, and nobody could take THAT away.
“Eh?” She eyed my offering carefully, as though time momentarily froze still.
Her dumbfounded look gave way to a curious stare aimed towards me. Those big round pools of emerald staring directly into mine.
“You can have it. I just wanted to win.” With a shrug, I urged her to take Pingin off my hands.
“But don’t you… wanna keep it? You’re crazy about Lilia-chan….”
“I do, but I’m not into plushies. I think you’d appreciate it more.”
“I… see.” With a slightly rosy tinted face, Ichika stretched her arms out, and hugged Pingin tight to her chest.
Wait… did she really want it that much?
“Thanks.” With a small, tiny smile, the edges of her lips curled upwards, and her gaze fleeted across the campus in an attempt to avoid mine.
Endo of course, couldn’t help but interject, sticking her tongue out in the process. “Wowzerz, this is so sappy I’m getting diabetez!”
“Oh, shut up.” I retorted, while Morishita chuckled.
“Kirara doesn’t even care about romance unless it’s BL.”
“Why should I? It’s just Ichika and Mistah Uke! Now if it were Kota-chan and Uke-kun on the other hand then…”
The both of us retorted, looking utterly disgusted.
“Hm… but you both look like Ukes though, so one of you should be the seme, right?”
“Oye, stop fantasising weird things about us already!”
“Now, now, let’s get moving!”
With a spring in her step, Ichika cut off the weird conversation and skipped ahead of the group all in one.
Delighted to leave the BL talk behind, me and Morishita followed, while Kirara finally dropped her shenanigans and kept up with the group.
Quick heads up to everyone, minatika made quite the lovely fanart for LM&B, so if you wanna check it out, it's already uploaded in the showcase! And also a big big thank you to minatika, I really really appreciate it! Sadly, my sketching skills are worse than a pre-schooler's so I can't return the gesture...
Thanks for reading everyone!