It’s My First Time Working Late Nights at a Convenience Store, and If I Keep Getting Demon Lords, Kappa and Other Oddballs as Customers, I’m Giving My Two-Weeks’ Notice
“Chronoa? That’s the name of...the demon lord’s missing mai-...”
I don’t realize that I’ve mumbled that out loud until it’s too late. Chronoa suddenly vanishes — only to reappear almost instantly, right in front of me.
She grabs my face, pressing my cheeks between her hands as she stares directly into my eyes.
“Did you just...utter the name ‘Demon Lord’? What do you know of him, hm? It’s not nothing, is it? It can’t be. You must know something.”
Her fingers dig into my cheeks, with enough force to leave a mark. She leans in, until she’s only inches away from my face, her wide, jet black eyes gazing at me with such fierce supplication that I start to seriously consider spilling the beans.
Wait, no. That’s a terrible idea.
According to Sheri, Chronoa’s the reason why the demon lord became an entitled, lazy brat.
She’d rather that they didn’t meet up — and I applaud her good sense. I’d much rather respect her wishes.
“Nope. Haven’t a clue.”
“Why, that can’t be true. I can see it in your eyes. Come now, don’t look away.”
“H-Hey, I said I didn’t know...!”
The friendly chime of the automatic doors is music to my ears.
Just as I turn to look over at a very confused Lord Nobunaga, Chronoa suddenly leaps away from me.
I hear the whistle of rushing wind as a large, silver sickle whips past my ear.
Having distanced herself with incredible speed, Chronoa comes to a skidding stop on the tile floor, her eyes widening once she gets a good look at the latest arrival.
“Goodness, no one told me that people in this realm walked around with such dangerous objects. I thought this was a civilized setting.”
After a quick glance over at the sharp blade embedded in the wall, I’m pretty sure I know who our new challenger is.
Standing in between the automatic doors is the kuchisake-onna, her hair practically standing on end from the force of the blood-thirsty aura that’s radiating from her entire body. I finally got her name the last time we met...along with another firm warning to stay away from other women, human or otherwise.
Oh my god, she’s going to murder Chronoa.
This convenience store’s seconds away from turning into an actual blood-soaked battlefield!
“Ayame, just c-calm down...”
My attempt at communication goes in one ear and out the other, as she stalks towards the register like some kind of wild animal, muttering to herself the whole time.
The closer she gets, the clearer I can hear her mumbling.
“You k-k-kissed MY Haru. I won’t forgive you for that. I CAN’T forgive you for that. You’re dead to me. I’ll rip you apart with my bare hands if I have to. Die. Die. Die. DIE. DIE. DIE. DIE. DIE. DIE. DIE. DIE. DIE.”
...Yeah, I can see how it could’ve looked like that from a distance.
This is bad. This is really bad. What should I do?
“Listen, Ayame — that’s not what happened. This is all just a big misunderstanding, okay? There wasn’t a kiss or anything like that.”
She storms right up to the counter, planting her feet in front of me. I’m telling the truth, but...
“Says the man shamelessly smooching complete strangers. I’d never forgive you if you touched another woman, yet there you were, inches away from her face, ‘discussing’ goodness knows what. My, you sure are popular, Haru. And always so happy to help the female clientele. First, it was feeding them, but now I see that you’ve extended your...services. Or is this an everyday occurrence for people in your position? ...Indecent encounters with the customers, that is.”
It’s totally not!
If random women regularly dropped by convenience stores in the dead of night to make out with the staff, then you’d have nothing but horny guys working the graveyard shift!
I mean, I can dream, but...
“I told you, nothing happened!”
“Ah... I see what this is about. I suppose he is a charming fellow, in his own way. However, you needn’t fear. I haven’t the slightest interest in this Haru of yours.”
From the second she entered the store, through to when she asked about the demon lord, Chronoa’s expression hasn’t budged. She turns to Ayame, addressing her with the same cool indifference.
I let out a sigh of relief. At least someone here is listening to reason.
“Did you just say that...you aren’t the least bit moved by my sweet, loveable, kind and handsome Haru? ...Are you trying to insult him?”
Whoa, just stop escalating things!
I can’t handle any more of these bombshells!!
“I wouldn’t dream of it. I already have a beloved. In any case, I won’t stay where I’m so clearly not wanted. And my departure may give you a chance to quell your rage, young miss.”
Still just as stone-faced as before, Chronoa carefully approaches Ayame — before quickly stepping right around her to grab one of my arms in a tight squeeze, whispering in my ear.
“You can be sure that I’ll be seeing you again. After all - you still have to tell me what you know about the Demon Lord.”
The coy smile she flashes Ayame (complete with giggle) is the last straw.
“...You apologize right now, or else I’ll...!”
Ayame points an accusing finger at Chronoa, who shrugs.
“I simply felt like emulating the women that I’ve seen on midday dramas — particularly the ones who cause trouble for the happy couples.”
Despite her expressionless delivery, Chronoa does manage to seem pretty pleased with herself. That doesn’t sit well with Ayame, who lashes out to teach her a lesson. Chronoa nimbly avoids the irate kuchisake-onna, hurrying off to collect a (still) very bemused Lord Nobunaga. Then, with a quick wink at me, she’s gone in the blink of an eye.
“Whew... I don’t know what her deal is, but she sure is intense...”
...Which is exactly what Sheri had warned me about.
Chronoa’s consistently emotionless tone of voice and complete lack of facial expressions make it almost impossible to get a read on her true intentions, but... The one thing I do know is that she definitely set the demon lord down the road to ruin. He’d be much better off if they didn’t ever meet up again.
I hear my name spoken in a voice so low, it makes my shoulders tense up.
Yep, she’s angry. Ayame is most certainly pissed off. Knowing her, she probably wants to know what Chronoa whispered in my ear — and she’s not going to believe me, no matter what I tell her.
When I finally, very slowly, rather reluctantly, and incredibly nervously turn around to face her, I’m shocked to see tears streaming down from those gorgeous eyes of hers.
“Whoa, Ayame! What’s wrong?! Why are you crying?!”
“...Wh-When I thought that woman was going to steal you away, I couldn’t help it... After all, I know I’m impossible to deal with... Just an awful woman... And my mouth is hideous...”
Ayame trails off, self-consciously covering her face before she continues.
“I’ve had so many men try and flirt with me over the years... They’d act all sweet while my mask was up, but they’d shriek as soon as they saw my face! They’d yell at me to stay away from them, or they’d act like they were going to kill me... Even if I told them I loved them, they all betrayed me in the end.”
I listen to Ayame with my eyes screwed shut, focusing on her story as she talks through her tears, her head hanging low.
“But, Haru, you... You’re the only one who hasn’t called me ugly. Or said that I’m a monster. Th-That’s why...I’ve fallen in love with you. Does that...bother you? Do you...hate me?”
I pull Ayame into a hug without a second thought.
“No, I don’t. I don’t hate you at all.”
“You...don’t? Even though I’m always stalking you, I’m unbelievably obsessive, and my face is so grotesque?”
I feel my eyes start to water as she wraps her arms around me, squeezing tightly enough to snap my spine in two. She must have been carrying the scars of those insults for so long.
“You’ve gotten me out of a few bad situations, though. And, you even had the guts to tell me that you like me. I think that makes you as brave as you are beautiful, Ayame.”
“Thank you... Haru.”
My words must’ve gotten through to her, because Ayame takes off her mask, giving me a warm, gentle smile.
It’s the most stunning smile I’ve ever seen.
Once Ayame leaves, I turn back to the hole in the wall that her sickle has left, wondering how I’m going to explain that one to my manager.
While I’m weighing my options, the door to the break room opens with a slow creak. My manager slips out from behind it, his eyes bright red.
He sets a heavy hand on my shoulder and says...
“I hope...the two of you are happy together.”
My manager gives me a thumbs up — which is easily the most shocking event of the entire evening.
He heard all that?!