Chapter 33:

Jack the Stripper Slinks Over

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

This iteration of the legendary Kintaro is solid muscle all the way up to a very feminine face.Bookmark here

One that my manager, who’s poked his head out from the break room, keeps sneaking peeks at.Bookmark here

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Ayame stiffens, shifting in her seat so that her back is to the newly opened door, hiding her mask-less face...Bookmark here

As the shinigami and I bury ours in frustration.Bookmark here

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“...Another human? Oh, how are we going to explain a situation like this...?”Bookmark here

“Great. What am I going to tell my manager this time...?”Bookmark here

But if the shinigami thinks that he’s some kind of defenseless bystander, then I have to wonder just how good the visibility is in that gas mask of his.Bookmark here

“Wow, what a hunk. That muscular frame and those big, burly arms...! Ooh, he’s built like a tank.”Bookmark here

Kintaro can’t tear her eyes away.Bookmark here

I’m not too sure what the fascination is, though. I mean, as far as I can tell, the two of them are pretty similarly stacked.Bookmark here

Kintaro sashays right up to my manager. Running her fingers rather suggestively along his arm, she blows him a kiss.Bookmark here

“Sooo... You free tonight?”Bookmark here

“I have to work.”Bookmark here

Hey. Keep your paws off him, hussy. My manager takes everything so seriously, that I’m genuinely worried that he’s going to get taken advantage of. Still, he did turn her down surprisingly quickly.Bookmark here

Lost in thought, I’m called back by an urgent tug on my sleeve.Bookmark here

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“Do you...sell face masks here?”Bookmark here

Ayame’s gaze flits over to my manager, as she keeps her hands clamped over her mouth.Bookmark here

“Of course, we do. Hang on, I’ll go get you one.”Bookmark here

I guess she’s still uncomfortable without one around other humans.Bookmark here

I hurry and grab one off the shelves, scanning it and paying for it with the change I now consistently keep in my pocket.Bookmark here

“Here you go. And don’t worry — it’s on me.” Bookmark here

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“No, I can pay for it.”Bookmark here

“Seriously, it’s fine. You’re always looking out for me, so let me take care of this one.”Bookmark here

“...Thank you. Oh, but it seems like a waste to wear it, since it’s the first present you’ve ever given me...”Bookmark here

Out of everyone I’ve treated to something here, I don’t think anyone’s given me a smile as adorably delighted as this.Bookmark here

Ayame really is special.Bookmark here

“Haru... A little help here?”Bookmark here

At his strained plea, I whip around to see that Kintaro’s backed him right up against the wall, boxing him in seductively.Bookmark here

“What’s going on over there?!”Bookmark here

“Well, aren’t you precious. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone so squeaky clean. Oooh, don’t tell me... You’ve never even been on a date with anyone before, have you?”Bookmark here

“Th-That is correct.”Bookmark here

I can see my manager trembling from here. Don’t worry, I’m coming to the rescue!!Bookmark here

“Whoa! Hang on, I’ll be right there!”Bookmark here

“Hm? What’s all the fuss about? Did I do something wrong?”Bookmark here

Kintaro freezes up, her head tilting in confusion as she looks back at the rest of us.Bookmark here

Uh, yeah! You’ve stuck the poor guy between your rock-solid body and a pretty hard wall!Bookmark here

“...My apologies. I didn’t mean any offence, it’s just, I...get so nervous around women that I...can barely speak. The closer they get the worse it... Hm? Come to think of it, I don’t feel as embarrassed as usual. My heart isn’t pounding like mad, either. ...I wonder why?”Bookmark here

My manager timidly glances up to get a better look at Kintaro, managing a few seconds of actual eye contact.Bookmark here

Huh. I guess drag queens are exceptions to the rule?Bookmark here

“It must be due to the shock. ...Getting dragged off by such a queen would be a royal pain in the... Heh heh.”Bookmark here

...Of course, the shinigami just HAD to butt in with an awful pun. I swear, he never seems to know when to let something die.Bookmark here

I can practically hear the creaking of Kintaro’s neck as she slowly turns to glare daggers at him.Bookmark here

“...Didn’t I ask you ever so nicely to NEVER call me that? I am a delicate flower. If you so much as suggest that I’m NOT, I’ll make sure that you spend the rest of the evening prying what’s left of your face from your mask.”Bookmark here

Um, most “delicate flowers” — self-proclaimed or otherwise — wouldn’t threaten to bash people’s heads in with a rumbling voice like that.Bookmark here

The shinigami lets out a whimper as Kintaro cracks her knuckles in preparation for a beatdown.Bookmark here

“It’s so strange. I’ve never been able to look a woman in the eye before. Normally, I wouldn’t be able to carry on a conversation at this distance, either. Then, why...?”Bookmark here

Kintaro places a supporting hand on my manager’s shoulder, giving him a firm thumbs up.Bookmark here

“It’s love.”Bookmark here

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Whoa, hold on there. He’s addled enough that he’d actually believe that.Bookmark here

Ding-a-ling-a-ling...  Bookmark here

In walks a gentleman dressed in a simple white shirt and black pants, his gray hair pulled back in a ponytail. Despite all odds, you can tell that he’s just some regular dude.Bookmark here

Okay, how are we supposed to explain this ridiculousness to THAT guy?Bookmark here

Yep, this is it. This is how the convenience store dies.Bookmark here

I mean, we’ve got a super swole drag queen threatening a death god in a gas mask, as two more equally suspicious characters stare on.Bookmark here

Most sane people would run the other way.Bookmark here

Ayame is up in a flash, her chair screeching against the floor.Bookmark here

“...YOU.”Bookmark here

The seemingly normal customer staggers — but he was just pulling out his hidden blades. He’s got one in each hand now, and a third clenched between his teeth.Bookmark here

“Aw, c’mon love, don’t be like that. You knew I’d be back. And this time, I’m gonna get the job done.”Bookmark here

The well-armed pervert brings his blades down on Ayame’s sickle with enough force to knock it out of her hand. Before she can recover, he’s already poised to strike again.Bookmark here

Everything’s happening so fast. There’s nothing I can do to stop him.Bookmark here

“Ayame!!”Bookmark here

I’m too far away. Standing beside my manager, all I can do is look on in horror.Bookmark here

...Until I feel a gust of wind whip by.Bookmark here

“Oooh, the nerve! How dare you point those dangerous weapons at that sweet little cutie pie!”Bookmark here

Kintaro rushes in, holding back both of the pervert’s knife-wielding hands with apparent ease.Bookmark here

“What strength...! You’re some kind of monster...”  Bookmark here

“Aw, muffin. You think that’s impressive? Well, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet!”Bookmark here

“Hngh!!”Bookmark here

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Kintaro delivers a vicious headbutt at point-blank range.Bookmark here

Oooh, that’s got to hurt.Bookmark here

“Heh heh. I’ve gotta hand it to you, girlie. You’re one brawny beauty. And I love that in a woman.”Bookmark here

He wobbles, blood trickling from his forehead, and the shinigami pounces on him from behind.Bookmark here

“Guh!!”Bookmark here

“Got you!”Bookmark here

The shinigami handcuffs the pervert’s hands behind his back, binding him up tight with a rope for added insurance.Bookmark here

“What a disgusting man.”Bookmark here

He spits out his judgement as he tightens the bonds, and I rush over to Ayame.Bookmark here

“Ayame! Are you alright?!”Bookmark here

“Yes, I’m fine.”Bookmark here

She gives me a weak smile as she clutches her right hand. Did she get hurt when that jerk disarmed her?Bookmark here

“...I’m sorry that I couldn’t do anything to help.”Bookmark here

“Oh, don’t worry about that. I was so much more afraid of something awful happening to you, Haru. It’s better that you were out of harm’s way.”Bookmark here

“Still, I... I’m sorry.”Bookmark here

“Ooh, isn’t that just swell... You lucky bastard... I’d kill to have a woman that gorgeous fawning all over me...”Bookmark here

Being bound up doesn’t stop that pervert from trying to undress Ayame with his eyes.Bookmark here

“I’m the legendary Jack the Ripper. So, you’re called ‘Ayame,’ huh? Heh, that’s great. What a great name.”Bookmark here

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He wriggles in delight, swaying from side to side.Bookmark here

I step in front of Ayame, to try and block her from his view.Bookmark here

“What is your problem? Why do you keep attacking women who could beat you up?”Bookmark here

“There’s no sport in preying on the weaker ones. Getting the toughest ones to start crying, to feel ashamed, or get all embarrassed...that’s where the real fun is. And when you slice all of their clothes off... Ooh, even the strongest’ll break down into tears, blushing red and trying to cover up, all because of ME. It’s the BEST.”Bookmark here

“Never mind your excuses. You owe this woman an apology.”Bookmark here

My manager advances on that shameless degenerate with thundering steps, his expression absolutely terrifying.Bookmark here

“For what? I’m just out here, tryin’ to live my best life.”Bookmark here

“Why you...!”Bookmark here

I swear, I can feel my blood start to boil. I’m about to punch the guy, but my manager blocks me off, sinking down to a level low enough to stare that pervert in the face.Bookmark here

“She deserves an apology too, but I was talking about her.”Bookmark here

My manager jerks his thumb over at Kintaro.Bookmark here

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“Didn’t your mother ever teach you not to call people names?”Bookmark here

“Wh-... I... Oh, don’t bother with that ruffian. That wasn’t the first time I’ve been called a monster, and it won’t be the last.”Bookmark here

My manager turns back as Kintaro bashfully waves off the insult, with a...Bookmark here

“Well, that’s not right. A woman as beautiful as you could never be anything but angelic.”Bookmark here

“Say whaaat?!”Bookmark here

With that startled outburst, the shinigami slides up next to me, whispering in a low voice.Bookmark here

“They...were not sizing each other up earlier?”Bookmark here

“Like, for a fight? Nah, I think that was just Kintaro, uh, coming on a little too strong.”Bookmark here

“And that was a good thing?”Bookmark here

“...Honestly, I have no idea.”Bookmark here

“Oh, please, you’re making me blush. Really though, you don’t have to go out of your way to be nice...”Bookmark here

Not that Kintaro seems all that bothered by the compliment.Bookmark here

“I wasn’t. I meant what I said. Are you listening to me? All women are wonderful. No exceptions.”Bookmark here

The last half of that statement is very pointedly directed at the pervert.Bookmark here

He looks between my manager and Kintaro, arching a cynical eyebrow as he mutters...Bookmark here

“...Yeah, right.”Bookmark here

***Bookmark here

“Thank you for your assistance, everyone.”Bookmark here

With a crisp bow, the shinigami departs, dragging his bounty out behind him. ...Hang on, where’s Kintaro?Bookmark here

“Sooo, since we’ve established that you think I’m pretty... You sure you’re not free tonight?”Bookmark here

“I have to work.”Bookmark here

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Figures. That delicate flower’s gone back to flirting with our fragile introvert.Bookmark here

“Thanks for everything, Haru.”Bookmark here

“...You know, I don’t know why, but it feels like this night just dragged on forever.”Bookmark here

“Mm, but... It feels like it’s been ages since the two of us got to spend this much time together, so it wasn’t all that bad.”Bookmark here

Ayame smiles, and it’s still the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.  Bookmark here

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More than anything, I’m just glad that nothing too serious happened to her.Bookmark here

“Hey, Kintaro? Thank you for stepping in to save Ayame back there. I don’t know what we would’ve done without you.”Bookmark here

When I look back up from my polite bow, Kintaro glances back with a...Bookmark here

“Aw, honey, it was no trouble at all. I’m all for roughing people up to protect cuties like her! Seriously, if you’re ever in any kind of trouble, you just call. Even bears! Bring ‘em on! I’ll chuck the fuzzy jerks right out on their bare behinds!”Bookmark here

You know, Kintaro’s not so bad after all.Bookmark here

I’m still not sure that “delicate flowers” should be bragging about their ability to grapple with grizzlies, but... Well, she doesn’t need to hear that from me. I keep my mouth shut, giving her a grateful smile instead. Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.