Chapter 20:

The Three-Timing Hero

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


Tonight’s my twenty-fifth evening at the convenience store.Bookmark here


When I step out of the break room to start my shift, my attention is immediately drawn to the sketchy-looking character in sunglasses and a black hoodie over in the seating area. Bookmark here

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“Suh dude.”Bookmark here


The blonde-haired hero gives me a goofy grin and an even goofier greeting. Great.Bookmark here


“...Oh, it’s you.”Bookmark here


“Hey, c’mon! Don’t be like that, man! I came all the way over here just to see you! And like, it’s cool that you’re out here getting that bread, y’know? I mean, dude. This place is dead. Just thinking about standing behind that register all night is putting me to sleep.”Bookmark here


“Right. I guess the first thing is to take out the trash.”Bookmark here


I wind up my shoulder, getting ready to deck this loser.Bookmark here


“Whoa! Hey! Hold on! What’d I ever do to you?! I’m a paying customer! And a world-famous Viewtuber! You can’t take a swing at me! That’d be like, a huge waste of this super marketable face.”Bookmark here


Propping his elbows up on the table, the hero takes off his sunglasses with a flourish to give me a camera-ready pout.Bookmark here


“Uuugh...”Bookmark here


With a deep sigh, I let the issue drop.Bookmark here


I’ve barely even started my shift, and I’m already beat.Bookmark here


“Hold on, man! You haven’t even asked what I’m doing here this late at night! I gotta talk to you about something! That’s it! C’mon, I just wanna chat!Bookmark here


The hero swings his legs excitedly, with a bright smile plastered on his face.Bookmark here

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This guy really is completely, totally, utterly...useless.Bookmark here


I ignore him for now, to go take my usual place behind the register.Bookmark here


“Welcome back, Mr. Cashier! So, look, I seriously need to talk something over with you. Would you hear me out?”  Bookmark here

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I get the feeling I know what this is going to be about.Bookmark here

If he’s bothered to sit around and wait for me to start my shift tonight, that can only mean one thing.Bookmark here

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“You’re the one who left that comment about friends stopping by on my video last night, yeah? Y’mean you saw some of my other party members?”Bookmark here

To my surprise, he’s dropped the dorky grin and gotten straight to business. Bookmark here

He really does want to see them again, doesn’t he? ...It’s a shame they sure don’t.Bookmark here

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I remember it like it was yesterday...Bookmark here

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“Is that so? Well. I wouldn’t much care to rendezvous with him myself. Have a pleasant evening, sir.”Bookmark here

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I can’t help but cringe at the memory of Claire’s ice-cold parting words.Bookmark here


Seriously, what DID this loser do to them?Bookmark here

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“Yeah, they were here. All three of them, actually.”Bookmark here


“Whoa, no way! They all made it over! Are they doing alright?”Bookmark here

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The hero’s face melts into a relieved smile. Huh. He’s not going to like the rest of this.Bookmark here

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“Um, it seemed like they were.”Bookmark here

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“So? Where’re they at now?”Bookmark here


Mac gives me this expectant look, as if to say: “You wouldn’t forget something that important, right?” Well...Bookmark here

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“Oh, I, uh...didn’t ask.”Bookmark here


“What?! That’s wack! C’mon, man, who wouldn’t think to ask that?! How am I supposed to find them NOW?”Bookmark here

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Mac’s at the counter in a flash, and I have no choice but to be honest with him.Bookmark here

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“Well, Claire was pretty adamant about not wanting to BE found.”Bookmark here

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“...Huh?”Bookmark here


“She said she doesn’t want to see you.”Bookmark here

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Reeling from the shock, Mac slowly drifts back down onto one of the seating area’s chairs — kind of like a pillar of sand crumbling away to nothing.Bookmark here

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“...Oh. ...Huh. I guess they, uh...still haven’t forgiven me yet.”Bookmark here

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I knew it. This dumbass DID screw up somehow.Bookmark here


“Alright, out with it. What did you do?”Bookmark here


“...Uh, y’know, nothing much. I just...dated all three of them at the same time.”Bookmark here

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.......Huh?Bookmark here


“Whoa, hold on. You WHAT?”Bookmark here


“Uh, like I said — I was literally going out with my whole party. Well, until they found out. Then I got canceled.”Bookmark here


“...Go to hell.”Bookmark here


“Dude, chill! I don’t need you throwin’ shade at me, too! And your voice got so low! You’re freaking me out, man!! Whoa! Check out your face! I swear, your eyeballs are twitching! Not cool, man! NOT COOL!”Bookmark here

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The hero points at my face as he flips out, but I couldn’t care less if it’s making him uncomfortable.Bookmark here


“Okay, fine. ...Burn in hell.”Bookmark here


“That’s basically the same thing! C’mon, man, that’s not fair! Don’t you at least wanna know why? I swear, I had a good reason for it! Heroes’ve got hard, yo!”Bookmark here

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I stare, stone-faced as he desperately tries to plead his case. I ball my hands into fists and pull my mouth tight, fighting to keep myself from blowing up at him before he’s said his piece. Bookmark here


“I’m serious, bruh! So, it’s like this: being an adventurer is the shit. Everyone wants in on it. You’ve seen the light novels at the bookstore, yeah? There’s rows of ‘em with dashing heroes as the star! And you know what? They’re all based on me! ‘Cause being a hero’s where it’s at! You’re basically guaranteed to get decked out in a full set of plot armor!” Bookmark here


The hero frantically launches into an exaggerated explanation that, so far, isn’t making me any less pissed off at him.Bookmark here


And he needs to apologize to the fantasy light novel writers of the world. Right this second.Bookmark here


I haven’t read a single light novel where the hero was a) going out with their entire party at the same time and b) got booted for their bad behavior.Bookmark here


“...”Bookmark here


“And what does every good hero need? That’s right, a heroine! I mean, you’ve seen my squad, right?! They’re all total snaccs! A smokin’ hot party like that is goals, man! You get that, yeah?”Bookmark here


“...”Bookmark here


Okay, I can’t really argue with that. They were all pretty cute. And Claire was totally my type.Bookmark here

But I’d smack him just for wasting his chance with a gorgeous woman like that.Bookmark here

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“And most heroes going the harem route only pick one girl in the end, right? Doesn’t that always mean that there’s at least one girl whose heart gets broken? That just doesn’t sit right with me, man. What kind of guy would I be if I made a girl cry?! That’s not heroic at all!”  Bookmark here

“...”Bookmark here

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“I’m telling you, I thought it all through!! Lots! It was super tough! I kept going over it in my head, trying to find the perfect scenario that would make all three of them happy! And, well, I figured the only way that’d work...would be to actually date all three of them. I was just trying to do the right thing, man!!”Bookmark here


“And? How’d they figure it out?”Bookmark here

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“So, they all bunk together, right? One night, they dared each other to say the name of the person they had a crush on, and...that was it.”Bookmark here

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C’mon, those are middle school sleepover-level shenanigans!!Bookmark here


Still, it sounds like those girls were pretty good friends to start with...Bookmark here

Until this loser ruined everything.Bookmark here

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“Then, when I wouldn’t pick one of them, every day was just an endless string of cat fights... Until the day they beat the snot out of me and strung me up naked on a mountain top. It was crazy how quickly they bonded over that, smiling through their tears as they slung their arms around each other’s shoulders. Man, seeing that, I thought... ‘Y’know, maybe I DID do the right thing after all.’ Oh, right. To cap it all off, they built a bonfire around me and started dancing.”Bookmark here

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...That makes for a horrifyingly absurd mental image.Bookmark here

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Sure, it’s one thing to get even with the guy who did you dirty — but dancing around the cheating jerk’s pyre is a bit much.Bookmark here

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“I guess they’re still not over it, huh? After they left me naked in the woods, I managed to break free of the rope, and I ran off to go apologize. But since I was, uh, still in my birthday suit, I went in through our base’s back door to put on some armor first, and we all ended up over here not long after that. I thought we’d all crossed over together, but then I found myself all on my own... So, I still haven’t gotten to explain any of that.”Bookmark here

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Well, if it was me, I’d have killed him on sight.Bookmark here


“I wanna...apologize.”Bookmark here


Judging by his unusually serious expression, I think he really means it, too. (Which makes me want to murder him a little less.) Maybe he’s actually taken the time to reflect on his actions?Bookmark here

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Though I think meeting up with the rest of his party might still be pretty hazardous to his health.Bookmark here

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“Yeah, I get that. Well, the next time they stop by, I’ll let them know that you’ve seen the error of your ways.”Bookmark here


“You’d do that for me? Dude, I’m shook! Oh, lemme give you my info this time! Here’s my card.”Bookmark here

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[Viewtuber Mac’s Heroic Issekai Vlog]Bookmark here

Coming atcha live, it’s ya main man Mac!  Bookmark here

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Huh. There’s even a pretty detailed drawing of him on the business card, too.Bookmark here

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“I shelled out for a pro illustrator. I mean, I’m good for it, so.”Bookmark here


“Uh...right.”Bookmark here

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Man, this loser’s got it made! The demon lord could su-...Bookmark here


“Oh my god, the demon lord! I haven’t seen him in ages! He hasn’t starved to death, has he?!”Bookmark here


“That guy? Nah, he’s fine! I’d heard that he was kicking it with some homeless peeps, so I made sure to find out which park he was chilling in last time.”Bookmark here


...He did bother to ask, didn’t he?Bookmark here


“...‘Homeless’? Ooh, wait. I’ve seen those guys on TV before... That’s rough, man. Uh, where are you guys hanging out now?”Bookmark here


“We’ve got a tent set up in a park not too far from here.”Bookmark here


“After that, I stopped by a different convenience store that was doing one of those seven hundred yen draws. And I bought ‘em out! I ended up with a ton of food, so I brought it over to those guys. I mean, it was way more than I could eat. There were even a few pork cutlet sandwiches, too.”Bookmark here


“You did all that?!”Bookmark here

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“Yeah, no cap, man. All the old homeless dudes were cryin’ and bowin’ and stuff. Heck, even the Demon Lord thanked me.”Bookmark here

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I’ll admit that good deed earned him a few points in my book.  Bookmark here

No, wait. That still doesn’t make him any less of a three-timing jerk.Bookmark here


“Viewtubers’re all about trying the latest fad, yeah? And lots of ‘em. If it’s got anything to do with food, then you end up with piles of the stuff. So, I was thinking...if I yeet it over to those homeless dudes, everyone wins. They’re hungry, and it’s better than letting it go to waste. I mean, once you’ve finished filming, there’s nothing left to do but chow down on it.”  Bookmark here


The hero hoists himself up from his table, cramming his hands into his pockets as he keeps his back to me.Bookmark here


“But, y’know... Even though they were sobbing the whole time, I got the feeling those old dudes liked the sandwiches the Demon Lord had bought them even more. And, I dunno, that made me a little envious of him. I’d always been told that the Demon Lord was supposed to be this super evil guy, but he always seems to have a tight crew.”Bookmark here

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“Well, that’s because you’re a three-timing piece of trash.”Bookmark here

“I only did it because I thought it’d help! Man, that’s always how it goes. Whenever I try to do something nice for someone, it never ends well for me. Those three were my only friends, and now they don’t even want to see me...”Bookmark here

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I can hear his voice start to quiver.Bookmark here

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Even though he’s supposed to be this heroic adventurer, Mac’s alone, friendless, and called out regularly as a fake online.Bookmark here


“Well, if you ever need to get something off your chest, you can always stop by and talk to me. Thanks for feeding the demon lord, too. It’s nice to know that he’s not going hungry. I’ll bet they’re grateful for what you’ve done.”Bookmark here

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The hero whips around to face me.Bookmark here

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“Thanks, man! ...I guess this makes us friends now? Heh heh. I don’t think I’ve been in a bromance before. S’kinda nice.”Bookmark here


“Yeeeah, I wouldn’t go that far.”Bookmark here


“You know you can call me Mac, yeah? And you’re... What’s that say? ‘Muramatsu’? Nah, any friend of mine’s gotta have a bitchin’ nickname! ...Oh, I know! ‘Murry’! That’s what I’ll call you from now on.”Bookmark here

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“Dude. Listen to people when they’re telling you no.”Bookmark here

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“Thanks, Murry! From now on, I’m gonna live every day to the fullest! Anyways, I’ll catch you later! And not just as some random customer, but as your fam! Adios, maaaan!!”Bookmark here

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Practically shouting by this point, the hero skips out of the store in high spirits.Bookmark here


...I just can’t seem to get rid of these clingy weirdos.Bookmark here


***Bookmark here


That afternoon...Bookmark here

I wake up to an alert for a new upload to Mac’s channel, titled:Bookmark here

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“My Brand Spankin’ New Fam in The Human Realm!”Bookmark here

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I open the video, to see Mac chattering away excitedly.Bookmark here


“Yo, so my convenience store bro does the late-night shift! That’s badass! Dude’s not even sleepy!”Bookmark here

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And he just. Keeps. Going.Bookmark here

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“...Heh.”Bookmark here


Still, I can’t help but smile.Bookmark here


I tap the “Like” button before burying myself back under the covers.Bookmark here

Bookmarked
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