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
It’s my twenty-seventh shift at the convenience store.
In rushes Princess Kaguya, dressed in another short kimono trimmed in frilly red and black lace that flutters just like her pigtails — and compliments her puffy red eyes.
Very obviously in an awful mood, she plunks herself down at a table in the seating area...
And promptly starts to bawl her eyes out.
I get as close to the seating area as I dare, calling out to the figure curled up on the table in a gentle tone.
“...*hic*... E-Even if I told you, it...wouldn’t help, so...*sniff*...”
This might be one of those issues that are unique to uh, young girls, so...yeah. I’d be pretty useless there.
Maybe my manager would know what to do? ...Ah, but he scared her pretty bad last time... Still, I can’t just leave her like that...
“Hey, mister! I’m baaaack!”
Hammuel, the ever-bubbly angel, comes trotting into the store with a smile so bright it could even outshine the sun.
Seriously, he’s the cutest of the cute.
“Whoa! What’s up, buddy?”
“Shhh, I’m not really supposed to be here. Manisha told me that I wasn’t supposed to leave the house, since I might get spirited away by strangers. But, she’s out buying some more milk tea, so I slipped out to go see you!”
So basically, the first thing he did after his jailbreak was run straight here just to meet me? I can’t say that I’m not worried about the trouble he’s going to get into for that stunt, but...he’s just too freaking adorable.
“So, you’ve gotta hang out with me until Manisha gets home!”
“Well, as much as I’d like to...”
While I was talking to Hammuel, Princess Kaguya has lifted her head high enough to give me a look that just screams “Why are you ignoring me and talking to that other kid?”
Ah, yeah. I suppose I deserve that one. My bad.
“Something wrong, mister?”
When Princess Kaguya catches me staring at her, she quickly buries her face in her arms again.
“It’s not me, exactly, but that girl over there. I think she needs someone to talk to.”
“What about? Is it anything I can help with? I’m a good listener.”
Hammuel sidles up as close to the prone princess as he can, taking care to speak softly to her.
“Hi there! I’m Hammuel. Are you feeling okay? Is everything alright?”
Princess Kaguya mutters icily in reply.
“Hey! Is that any way to speak to someone who’s worried about you? Hammuel’s just trying to be nice.”
“Shut up, you...pervert! Quit being so accommodating to cute girls, dumbass! Asshole! Asshat!”
...What’d I do to deserve an outburst like that?
Hammuel and I exchange a look, when...
“I foooound yoooou...”
I’ve heard that low, threatening rumble before. Hammuel has, too. He’s shaking like a leaf.
“...*huff*...*wheeze*... Haaah... So, you’re the one who...kidnapped...Hammuel... I’ll murder you on the spot, you sleazy son of a...”
The little devil doubles over, struggling to catch her breath. ...Not that it stops her from inching towards me as she hisses her threats.
I’m sure she’d make good on them too — if it wasn’t for Hammuel stepping in front of me, flinging his arms out wide.
“Manisha, wait! It’s all my fault! I only left because I reeeally wanted to see him again!”
“Hammuel, you’re walking bait for perverts who like their prey a little on the young side. That’s right, you heard me — the WORST kind of perverts possible! It doesn’t matter that you’re a guy, they don’t care! As soon as they sink their claws into you, you’re a goner. Come on, we’re going home.”
Princess Kaguya glances back up, mumbling quietly to herself. Huh. Something in that rant seems to have caught her attention.
Manisha takes Hammuel by the hand, ready to lead him back out. Hammuel, however, won’t have any of it.
“I can’t go! Not yet. There’s something I need to finish up here, first.”
“That girl over there isn’t doing so great. I’m worried. I can’t just abandon her!”
He points at Princess Kaguya, his shoulders slumping in distress. Manisha stares at the lump at the tabletop (since the object of concern has gone back to her moping).
“Why should you care about some stranger? I’M the only one you need, Hammuel.”
“Oh, you can’t do that, Manisha. If someone’s in trouble, I’ve got to help them! Just like the nice mister did for me.”
Hammuel really is the greatest. My soul feels cleaner just listening to him. Well, that’s an angel’s power for you.
“Ngh...fine. When you put it that way, I guess I can’t say no. Alright, I’ll stick with you until we sort out whatever that girl’s issue is.”
“Thanks, Manisha! Hey, um, miss? The two of us’re here to talk about, well... Whatever you’d like, really. Oh! I suppose mister makes three.”
Princess Kaguya jumps in her seat, startled by Hammuel resting his hand gently on her shoulder.
“...Doesn’t matter. None of you guys can fix anything.”
Yep. Still as charming as ever.
Can’t she see that her stubbornness isn’t getting her anywhere?
“Ugh, what is your problem? Hammuel just offered to listen to you whine! Seriously, that’s no way to make friends.”
Manisha’s retort has Princess Kaguya on her feet, bristling with anger.
“S-Shut up!! Who asked YOU?! You don’t know anything about me! Who needs friends, idiot!”
“Who’re you calling an idiot?! Don’t you know who you’re talking to?!”
Princess Kaguya stomps around the table to stare Manisha down.
“Who even goes around asking people if they know how to make friends, anyways?! That’s just stupid!! So, what? I should just copy you? You don’t even know how I feel!”
“Oh, so that’s it. You don’t have any friends, so you’re taking it out on everyone else. Not like that’s going to make anything worse, or anything.”
“All my teachers...*sniff*... Have already told me that... I’ve been worried about that... *hic* Ever since I started going to school... But everyone just calls me a weirdo. No one believed me when I said that my parents live on the m-moon... I-I’m a princess, so of course I’m not like everyone else... But I don’t know what makes me so different, either...”
I blink back tears, sniffling audibly.
“I want...my own friends. But I don’t...know how to make any. I’ve been living with my grandparents this whole time, so I don’t really know anyone who’s even my own age.”
Okay, now I’m full-on crying.
While I’m trying to figure out what advice I could possibly give her, Princess Kaguya still has more of her tragic tale left to tell.
“I’ve got five suitors, and they came — in secret — to check up on me at school. ...We were playing catch in my gym class, but...I was the only one who didn’t have a partner. Now, whenever I get home, the first thing they ask me is whether or not I’ve made any friends. But today, I-I...burst into tears and ran off.”
“Well, that’s just stupid.”
“...Don’t say that... I’m trying, I really am... I’m so worried, but I c-can’t...”
Princess Kaguya trails off, glancing back down at the table, and Hammuel puts his hand on her shoulder in reassurance.
“No, I mean, why would you want to be friends with a bunch of people who call you mean names? That’s dumb.”
Hammuel wraps his arms around Princess Kaguya, pulling her into a gentle hug before he pipes up.
“I know how hard that must’ve been for you. And sad. But, don’t you worry. I’ve already decided that I’LL be your friend!”
“Manisha, you will too, right?”
He gives her a surprisingly sharp look, as if to say “You’re gonna be friends and like it.” For a split second, Manisha seems almost startled, but she just shakes her head with a wry smile.
“Not this again! Geez, you just keep raking in the charity cases. Yeah, okay, sure. Any friend of Hammuel’s is a friend of mine.”
“You’ll both...be my friends?”
Princess Kaguya looks back up to see both Hammuel and Manisha smiling at her, as they each reach out to take one of her hands.
“’Course we will! We’re pretty much the same age, so we’ll have plenty to chat about!”
“Sounds good to me. ...As long as you don’t get any ideas about getting too close to Hammuel.”
“Y-You...really mean it?”
“You bet! Here, why don’t we start over? I’m Hammuel! But you can call me Hammy. And this here’s Manisha. What’s your name?”
“I... I’m Kaguya.”
Princess Kaguya stutters, nervously stumbling through her re-introduction.
“Great! Mind if I call you Kags?”
Hammuel flashes a smile so angelic that it makes Princess Kaguya finally break out into a bright grin.
“K-Kags...? Um, sure, why not? O-Okay! From now on, we’re gonna hang out a bunch!”
“You’re one of us now.”
Seeing the three of them sitting hand in hand, grinning and giggling makes my heart swell with a kind of older-sibling pride. I quietly brush away my own tears, when I spot some movement outside.
Huh. Just past the windows that look on to the seating area, I can see five guys huddled together, sobbing and gesturing ecstatically.
Man, pure friendship between youngsters is just so...heartwarming.
...Except I feel like saying that out loud could put me in the same category as those “worst possible kinds of perverts.”