Chapter 23:

I’m being used.

Light of my darkest eve

“Why not just talk to her about this yourself? AWP in a palace, they’re coming A.”
“It’s not as easy as that man. Palace tagged with scout.”

“Well what else can you do? You’re never gonna sort this all out without actually talking. Two dead at ramp, they’re rotating B.”

With another day free of obligations, I decided to consult Yosuke about my concerns. Over a game of counter strike, naturally.

“How do you even go about bringing that up though? ‘Hey Hanji, I’m worried that you might be using me for your own gratification and are going to throw me away at any second. Could you please give me empty words of affirmation to make me temporarily feel better?’ Shit, traded, two left on B.”
“I mean, that’s how I’d say it. But maybe I’m not the shining example of social skills. Nice frag, Akane. Match point next round”

A message pops up in the in-game team chat.

[X可愛かねX] (team): Thx YoYo ^^

Apparently Akane has no trouble communicating non-verbally, so I’ve been happily subjected to her adorable typing style since I started playing games with her and Yosuke.

“Look, man, I’ve known her a lot longer than you but that doesn’t mean I know her inside and out. I know you probably feel awkward about it, but if you don’t want these worries to eat you alive you’ve gotta talk to her. There’s nothing else you can really do.”
“Much as I hate to say it, you’re probably right.”
“I usually am. Shit, dead in sniper’s nest.”

I think I’m just gonna have to bite the bullet and raise my concerns to Hanji directly. Posturing about it isn’t gonna achieve anything.

Still, there’s one thing that I still feel I need to ask about, even if it’s none of my business.

“Hey, Yosuke, Hanji said she’s had relationships in the past where she ended up dumping her patner cos they caught feelings.”
“Yeah, that’s happened quite a few times. What about it?”
“…was one of those Saki?”

As Akane clutches the round out and wins us the game, the voice call falls silent. Something tells me I hit the nail on the head.

“That was… messy.” After a short but heavy silence, Yosuke speaks again. “They’d been hooking up for weeks, but while Hanji was exactly the same as she’d ever been, Saki… fell pretty hard. Ever seen a narcissist fall in love?”

“I… can’t say I have.”
“It’s less of what you and I would call ‘love’ and more like an infatuation. Possessive, needy, wanting to take control of the person’s entire life. Hanji realised what was happening and dumped her, and the two got in a big fight. Pretty much split the group down the middle for a while. Eventually they made up and became friends again, but while to Hanji it may as well have never even happened, I think Saki is still hurting about it even now. The two were incompatible from the start, but you don’t choose who you fall for.”

‘You don’t choose who you fall for.’ Ain’t that the unfortunate truth. Even if Saki and Hanji are on good terms on the surface, the emptiness in Saki’s expression when she spoke yesterday is hard to ignore. I don’t want that to happen to me. I can’t let myself fall in love with Hanji.

The familiar ping of a discord notification pulls me out of thought. Several pings, in fact. Alt-tabbing out of CSGO (and probably crashing it), I realised the message was coming from the group call.


Hanji and Saki aren’t bad girls
They just don’t understand
Hanji doesn’t try to hurt people
She just doesn’t know how to communicate well
And Saki doesn’t mean to be obsessed
She just gets too passionate
Please don’t think they’re bad!
They’re both precious friends to me
I don’t like it when they fight with each other
I don’t want you to fight with them as well
You’re our friend too, RoRo(^ω^)

“Thanks, Akane. And I don’t think they’re bad people, I’m just a little worried, that’s all.”

Akane is absolutely precious. I was never sure what to make of her before, since she basically only communicates through Yosuke, but since I started talking to the two online I now fully understand Yosuke’s urge to protect her. It feels wrong to infantilise her like this, but it’s the same urge as wanting to protect a kid. So understanding, and kind to a fault, but too innocent for the environment this school creates. I can only thank the heavens that someone like Yosuke is around to keep her safe from the unsavoury types.

“You guys wanna go for one more game?”
“Sorry man, I promised Akane I’d take her to the new nerd shop that opened up in the village today. She’s wanted to check out their manga collection for a while but doesn’t wanna go on her own.”
“Ah, that’s all cool. Cheers for the advice, I hope you guys enjoy yourselves. And Akane, let me know if they have any Junji Itou there.”
“No problem, dude. Happy to help.”


I’ll send you a picture if they have any
TTYL RoRo╰(*´︶`*)╯

Adorable. Yosuke better treat this girl well, or I’ll kill him.

Two more noises let me know they’ve left the call, and I also hang up a second later. Looking at the clock on my PC, it’s only about 3pm. Guess that frees up the rest of my afternoon, since I begrudgingly finished the week’s homework yesterday to take my mind off my conversation with Saki.

Just as I’m wondering whether to spend the rest of the day mindlessly scrolling 4chan or dragging myself out to the village for some fresh air, I hear a knock on my door. I can probably guess who it is.

“Yo, Taro Bro. Ain’t got nothin’ left to do today, wanna go out in the village? I’m cravin’ some cake again.”

Hanji stands there at my door, chipper as ever, wearing the same sports bra and Muay Thai trousers as the day I first got here. Since I need to talk to her about this at some point anyway, it might be best to just rip the bandage off clean and quick.

“Sure, but there’s something I wanna talk to you about on the way.”

I throw on my shoes and hoodie and step out of the door, joining Hanji walking down the long hallway.

“You sounded pretty serious about something back there, what you wanna talk about? You’re not gonna confess to me are you?” She says teasingly, giving me a smile so cute that I question whether it’s really a good idea to put this friendship in jeopardy with the question I’m about to ask. But I need to know the answer.
“Actually, it’s more a question. I’m not really sure how to ask it l, though.”
“Hm? Just hit me with it. You don’t gotta beat around the bush with me.”
“O-okay.” I take a deep breath to prepare myself for what I’m about to ask. “Are you… using me?”

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