Nekohime Hunter Frontier
Translation of Netoge no Yome wa Onnanoko ja nai to Omotta?’s volume 1, chapter 3.
Translation and localization notes are available at the bottom, but try to finish the chapter before that.
“Look, how’s my Rusian handling?!”
“Hey, you won’t hold if you bring along that many, you idiot!”
Controlled by Schw, Rusian approaches us while pulling in a crowd of enemies and gets engulfed by that entire cluster of enemies.
“Fufufufufu, I’m the best at using Master! Wait, aaah, I’m very sorry, I canceled the magic! Rusian’s dying!”
Rather than dying, Rusian’s dead, already dead! I was murdered mercilessly, gaining no more than a heap of death penalties!
“W-What’s this?! You’re so squishy! How am I supposed to use this?!”
“He’s not squishy, you’re just crap at using him! Aah, my experience points! Damn it, Schwein, you’re charging in too!”
“Don’t kill my Schwein! Master, hurry, heal!”
“What pleasure is there in using a character so lacking in power due to the absence of cash?”
“What, you’ve gotten some disease that kills you if you don’t cash?!”
Everyone’s fighting with characters different from those they originally use.
The challenge of the day’s a character exchange event under the pretext of liberating “Rusian” from a single person.
“Hey, doesn’t this count under sharing accounts?”
“No, no, really, we’re in front of each other’s computer for a bit, no one’s getting banned here!”
On the next day, we went hunting for not experience points but rare items.
Our aim’s to tear the relationship between Ako and me apart by subjecting us to savage situations.
“Ah, it dropped! It dropped, it’s the Valentinus Armor!”
“Woaaah, it seriously dropped! I can’t believe it!”
The armor’s top-class with strong resistance and status bonuses along while increasing life significantly.
In addition, it’s a part of the Valentinus Set, a set of equipment, too. Anyway, equipping them all is just amazing or so I heard.
The item fetches a hundred m’s—a hundred million in-game credits—at the user market price.
Our aim was to go hunting for rare items and raging after failing to get any results, but raging even after it dropping is just as much an online games thing.
“Valentinus… Valentine… I don’t know why, but its name is really annoying. How about we toss it?”
“Cool down, Ako! Don’t throw away a hundred m’s piece of equipment for the vibes its name gives!”
“What shall we do with it? Put it up for sale and divide it, or will someone use it?”
“I want to use it!”
I immediately spoke.
Rusian will be even tougher with that!
“I want it too!”
“It goes without saying, but I, too, want it.”
“I’ll get it and toss it!”
Everyone raises their hands, pleading for its ownership, and then exchange glares.
We all stand up, our stares interlocking with what’s likely bloodthirst.
“If everyone wants it…”
“I suppose we have no choice about the matter.”
“Let’s do it!”
Rock, paper, scissors!
Or so we argue over where the rare item goes.
“Huh, it stopped?”
“Hmm, the saba‘s dead?”
On the next day, the saba died, rare as it is.
Written as saba and read as server. And the server dying essentially means that the server’s down and no one’s able to log in.
It’s an online game thing to have its servers die often during open beta and right after official service starts, but it turns rare after stabilizing. Now that I think about it, it has been quite a while since the last time LA’s servers went under.
“It’s still evening, so maybe the cleaning lady went and pulled the plug?”
Ako says while trying to log in, time and time again, and getting rejected each time.
“What an aggravating lady. This is a truly regrettable state of affairs.”
“Prepare the new ballistic missile made in Japan, Ikan-no-I No. 3!”
Where are you planning to aim that, hey, stop it, Ako.
Still, what should we do when we aren’t able to log in to LA—oh, right.
“This isn’t the LA club or anything, right? If we can’t get in, why don’t we find another online game?”
“Hmph, another online game, you say?”
Master seems somewhat willing to get onboard while Schw, on the other hand, frowns.
“Another online game now? Isn’t LA enough?”
“But we have nothing to do with the server dead, right? Any recommendations?”
I personally try searching myself while I speak. Hmm, nothing really stands out, huh?
“Oh, this looks good.”
And Master calls out to us while displaying its official website on her monitor.
“What are your thoughts on this online game? By some stroke of luck, its open beta begins this very evening, it’s a MMORPG developed overseas. The game it was based off is rather famous and the management is that company renowned for their flimsy servers. Now, how about it? This has all the makings of bloodthirsty login game for us to relish.”
Master says with a smile full of anticipation.
Login game, as in desperately typing in one’s ID and password over and over again in order to be the first to log in to a game whose login servers exhibit behavior that would never happen normally due to the number of players logging in all at once exceeding their limit; that login game which attained great popularity among online gamers too far gone?
People must be flocking to this famous franchise this time round, not to mention how their servers are brittle. There’s no limit to registrations and with the F2P open beta starting in the evening rather than the NEET timing of noon—so that’s what she meant.
I take a look at Master smirking away and she returns a smile fitting someone who “understood”.
I glance towards Ako and see her exuberant as well.
That’s my bride for you, she gets it.
“Huh? What login game? What’s so fun about that? Let’s just surf the ‘net until LA revives.”
Yet unfortunately, there’s one outsider right here.
She knows nothing. Nothing about that one moment all online game player enjoys the most…!
Guilty, guilty, guilty… our voices overlap.
“Wait, eh, what? Just what is it?”
“Hah… you’re against playing a login game? What are you, some complete amateur?”
“What could be more enjoyable than the login game for an open beta? Do you not even understand that much, Schwein? I feel ashamed as your club president.”
“It’s time for us to leave all login games in the dust!”
“No, no, no, no, you’re all acting weird! Just what is it, what’s this login game?!”
“Allow me to explain!”
Master’s index finger points straight up as Schw utterly panic.
“The login game—the Lo Gu In ge-e-mu refers to a torture method, ‘ge-e-mu‘, practiced by the underground organization, ‘Lo Gu In‘, from ancient China! They would release their enemies into the wilderness in the searing heat of a summer where geothermal energy would rob them of their lives. There, they would undergo emaciation, finding neither prey nor water no matter how hard they tried, dying miserably as an end to that horrifying mutilation. Many of its victims were labeled as ‘Onrhein‘ from how they devoured even the clothing they wore and parts of their own bodies in their hunger. The extensive list of victims includes those such as Ichiro Onrhein, Castle Onrhein, and from the Western side, Didooon Bon Onrhein.”
“And in the modern era, the act of logging in before everyone else through desperate repetition regardless of the tremendous effort spent and futility of it all is termed login game… and that can be traced back to the Lo Gu In‘s ge-e-mu.”
Or so Ako picks up after Master’s exposition.
“Lies! Those are totally lies, right?!”
“No, really, I read it once in a book too, you know?”
“Where’s that book from?! Come on, spit it out!”
“…Minmei Publishing, I think?”
“I knew you were lying!”
No, I wasn’t, how rude.
“Wait a minute, we’re doing this? Seriously? Despite how we’ll get sick of it after half a day?! We’re going to bother creating an account and spend effort logging in?! Even though we won’t get anything out of it?!”
“Download the client, posthaste! This is an order from your Master!”
The order of the day’s after-school period is to enjoy a login game the opinions from the reluctant Schw disregarded.
“Kh, to think I would suffer from an error at the server select despite penetrating the login… however, there is no necessity to return to the login screen after logging in. Come, let me witness how you shall deal with my rapid spamming!”
“Wait, Master, it looks like it helps if you restart the client after getting stuck at the server select.”
“Hmph, is that so? Very well, then I shall restart… h-hey, Rusian! It stops at the login now, I cannot even access the server select!”
“You fell for it! That’s what happens to the weak in a battle of information, Master! Now to take that opening and to run with it!”
“What deception! What deception, Rusian! Kh, with things at this stage, I can only retaliate by changing my password to a simple one for the time being!”
“It’s here, it’s here! I’ve finally passed the server select and gotten to the character creation! I’m at the top with a lead!”
“Stop it, press cancel, Ako!”
“You must not, you will end up regretting it if you create your character!”
“Character creation… the client stopped after I pressed it! It stopped responding! It all froze up along with the entire computer!”
“You had it coming to youuuuuu!”
“Welcome to the login spamming stage, Ako-kun!”
“Hey, just what is so fun about this…?”
“Whew, today sure was fun, huh, Master?”
“Indeed. So much so that it is a wonder why they do not sell it as a Simple 1200 game: ‘THE Login‘.”
“Someone would make a time attack video and people would stick ‘A WEEK AFTER OPEN BETA STARTS’ tags on it.”
“The crowd cleared up two hours after it opened up this time, however. It is a slight minus how that was due to its mundane gameplay.”
“When it comes to online games, don’t just enjoy the logging in and ignore how boring the gameplay is…”
“I would have led at the top if I hadn’t froze there…”
Master and I were had our fill of fun, Segawa spoke while worn out, and Ako was apparently still unsatisfied.
I place my hand on Ako’s head and continued by patting it.
“There’s no need to get so down about it. It’s thanks to defeats like this that you can continue to enjoy login games in the future.”
“…Yes, I guess so.”
Ako looks up at me before her cheeks loosen as her eyes narrow.
Schw mutters while watching us.
“You know, isn’t this club… pointless?”
“Why’s that? Aren’t we having fun with these club activities every day?”
“We are, but that’s not what I mean. Wasn’t our original goal to pull Tamaki-san from her sleep-talk-ish claims to be Nishimura’s wife?”
“Yeah, that’s it. How are we supposed to respond to something that obvious?”
And what’s with that “original”? Isn’t that still our goal now?
Looking at me smiling away with doubt, Schw slowly reaches out with her hand.
Her outstretched hand pointed at mine stroking Ako.
Erm… yeah, right.
Ako’s head clings onto my hand and moves accordingly as I gently move it away.
She’s so cute, just like a kitten wanting to be spoiled. How about I just bring her back home and raise her?
“How about you give up already?”
“It’s all over if I give up!”
“It’s not like not giving up will help any for that.”
No, my battles will continue as long as I don’t give up!
“Hey, wouldn’t you give up?”
“Stop it, Ako, don’t make me fall to that side!”
I desperately wave off Ako’s seductive temptation as she pulls on my hand.
As a matter of fact, I have felt that our course of action has diverged somewhat.
It appears Ako still treats me as her husband whenever her focus strays even the slightest and we are only deepening the bonds between the four of us.
I’m still keeping my “Let’s make Ako have a change of heart!” goal, but there’s also a part of myself that continues thinking, “She’s cute, so cute”.
But still, even with that said, I don’t want to become some e-flirt. My thoughts regarding the difference between games and real life haven’t changed. We’re only getting closer simply because, well, there’s no harm treating Ako nicer since I got on good terms with her in real life too. That’s how I feel, you see?
I make those excuses in my mind before I notice a complicated expression on Master.
“What’s the matter, Master?”
“No, I am somewhat troubled over the lack of progress. Much to my chagrin, the we will soon reach our time limit for these club activities.”
Master says something rather inexplicable.
“Time limit? What’s with that?”
“The time limit for this club to persist. Though I did pull some strings for its authorization, there is a certain aspect entirely out of my control.”
“To be specific?”
Master nods with a hmm before spreading her arms out at the clubroom and speaking.
“We have no adviser.”
Now that she pointed it out, I had never seen any teaching staff in this club.
Really, not even once.
“We will find an adviser before long… Though I did manage to have it established with that claim, the teachers are busy as well. It seems there are none capable of sparing our time for our netoge club.”
“Then, the time limit?”
“The time we have until our club is involuntarily disbanded due to the lack of an adviser. I believe it would be a week before the issue is raised at the staff meeting.”
One week left?!
That’s pretty short, considering how it has still been a week since we began club activities!
“No way, really?”
“That’s cutting it close.”
“Nothing can be done about it. To begin with, the club was forcibly pushed through to meet your hopes and expectations. In a sense, that compromise was accepted only because that time limit was present.”
Our hopes and expectations? Didn’t you arbitrarily decide on it, Master?
Master turns a brilliant smile towards Ako who likely had the same doubts as me.
“I suppose you have a question to ask, Ako?”
“None whatsoever, Sir!”
Why are you going “Sir!”?
Still, I get it. I was thinking she was going too far and she really was, huh? She must have thought it didn’t really matter since it would be disbanded at the next staff meeting without an adviser anyway. And the responsibility would fall onto that teacher if we found one to advise us.
“At present, I am putting in effort in my search for an adviser, but I suppose it would be futile. Not many would want to be subjected to the treatment as the adviser for the netoge club in the staff room.
“Not much left to the imagination there, huh?”
Yeah, they’ll be on a bed of needles. Nothing could it make it harder to stay in the staff room.
Nn, still, our homeroom teacher’s new and slacking off, so she may be up for it, surprisingly enough.
The day’s club activities end as I decide to try asking a little.
“So I guess our club activities are coming to an end…”
“It’s a real pity, we have those powerful computers all to ourselves too.”
“That’s not what I meant, not one bit!”
I’m going back home along with Ako today like every day these days.
Ako who looks like she’s having fun walking by my side is, as expected, gathering gazes from the male students returning from their clubs and, on a side note, there are gazes focusing on me too—dark ones. After having gotten used to that and even getting a sense of superiority from it, it does feel a little sad to have it end in just a little more.
“It’ll be lonely with less time for the two of us! You could even say it’s like a husband leaving his wife behind for work despite them being newlyweds!”
“It’s spooky how realistic that sounds!”
And Ako’s sad in that particular sense as always.
“I do think it is okay if you, Rusian—no, Nishimura-kun, were to express your love more.”
Ako says it in a tone like conveying how a semi-rare refuses to drop despite the odds claiming otherwise.
Well, I get how she feels. I get that much, at least.
“Don’t expect men to turn all lovestruck. …No, if I do say so myself, that might have already happened if you weren’t dealing with me.”
“That a fact?”
“That’s a fact.”
Letting out a sigh, I take my eyes off Ako.
Praying the evening sun’s dyeing the town crimson serves as a valid reason for my face colored in that same shade, I mutter my true thoughts.
“To be honest, Ako, you’re cute, we hit it off well, and it’s fun being with you. I do believe anyone aside from me, with my old trauma that had yet to disappear, would have given up and fall for you. On that note, I can’t help but feel a little bad for you, Ako”.
Ako’s eyes, widened, stared at me after I spoke.
“Nishimura-kun’s lovestruck! Could this be a dream?! I’ll be late for the club if I don’t wake up soon! Nishimura-kun, please pinch my cheeks a littl-owowowow!”
Her cheeks sure are soft, huh…
And to think I even bothered to say what I’m really thinking too.
Aah, some murder would be nice now. I want to murder myself for saying all those embarrassing things.
For some reason, Ako’s expression gradually soften up as I continue on tugging on her cheeks.
“Haah, Nishimura-kun’s… Rusian’s touching my face…”
“Why are you turning all happy?”
“Of course I am! I mean, Rusian, you’re acting all lovestruck and touching me on your own accord too!”
You’re the one who told me to do it.
What’s with her… After releasing her cheeks, Ako sways with her face falling towards me.
“Fuhehe, Rusian… aah, this strong flavor…”
“Eh, do my clothes smell?”
“That’s not it, you see, it’s like that, that… aah, geez! I can’t hold it back!”
“Hold what back?!”
Upon saying so with a glazed look, Ako dives face-first into my neck.
Grinding against me just like that, she takes in deep breaths, pretty much audible even to me.
“Rusian, sniff, sniff! Haa, haa! Sniffsniff!”
“Wh-wa-wait, stop it, stop it! It’s getting on me! I can totally feel you breathing on me!”
Just how hard is she inhaling?! Is she trying to suck me up?!
And with Ako’s head this close to my face, there’s this amazing smell too!
“Sniffing isn’t enough! What can I do but to taste it directly?!”
“Lick, lick! Rusian, lickity lick!”
A moist sensation immediately runs over my nape.
That damp, soft something runs across my skin back and fro once or twice while my thoughts sank into a white blankness.
The rough breathing I sense on my skin climbs up towards my mouth as our breathing practically weave together.
It should have normally been an unpleasant sensation, giving me goose bumps, but it does feel good, just a little—wait, this is no time to let her get her way!
“W-Waaaaaahh! Why are you licking me, you!”
Tearing off Ako with all the strength I can muster, I see the girl desperately reaching her hands out towards me as her red tongue peeks from her mouth.
“Aah! Just a bit more! Let me lick just a bit more!”
“We’re on the way from school!”
“I’m okay anywhere with you, Rusian! Anywhere’s fine with me, so let me lick you!”
“Stop attacking my reason directly! It’s never happening! My life points dropped to zero a long time ago!”
Perhaps having gotten her fill after going all out, Ako appears rather satisfied unlike me and my feeble breathing.
“Geez… I wonder why did you arrive at me, Ako? This would have never happened if it was any other guy. What caused it, some desire sensor?”
“P-Please don’t speak of something so frightening. Nishimura-kun would have never dropped for me if Desire Sensor-chan did its work properly.”
“Don’t say it like I’m some drop item!”
“You’re a super-rare, your grade’s so high that a single drop’s enough for a fortune!”
Rare? What rare? I’m just one of something stacked up mountain high from any of those shops.
No matter how I think about it, Ako’s the rare one here.
“Nah, you’re the super-rare here, seriously.”
“No way, you are, Nishimura-kun!”
It’s annoying how Ako flicks her face away as she says so.
What could have even made her say so?
“You’re the valuable one here, hey.”
“You’re wrong, you’ll fetch a higher price, Nishimura-kun!”
“Like I’m saying, you’re definitely worth more.”
“There’s nothing more precious than you to me, Nishimura-kun.”
“Well, there’s nothing more—wait, where is this going!”
That was close, I almost spoke out those good-for-nothing words while following the conversation’s flow!
Ako audibly clicked her tongue at how I had shut my mouth in a flutter.
“Khh, just a little more…”
“Nothing will change even with a verbal remark from me, you hear?!”
Just what’s with this?
Still, it’s true, it really will be a pity if we lose our club.
It will be sad losing the chance for these silly conversations with Ako in real life; I can’t deny that thought at all.
“Ah, Nishimura-kun, let’s go get a sweet red bean bun today, a sweet red bean bun!”
“My mouth’s in the mood for a meat bun, though?”
“Red bean bun!”
I am in the mood for a meat bun, but well, a sweet red bean bun won’t be too bad either.
But of course, I won the bout.
“Is there nothing we can do…”
I mutter alone, the morning after, in the classroom before homeroom.
In the end, I spent the entire night thinking of how to stop the club from being abolished.
That’s no issue with me wanting that; it has nothing to do with us being married or anything, Ako’s my friend and it would make her depressed, that’s all to why I’m bothering to think of how I can be of help. Ako’s my friend and I do think it would be nice having a little more time to talk with her, that’s all to it.
That’s normal, normal, perfectly normal!
These excuses to myself are turning desperate. Unfortunately, I am aware of that fact.
To begin with, it’s not such a big problem at all, we simply need an advisor. All we have to do, is to capture some random teacher and ask him or her to please become the Modern Communications-Electronics Recreation Club’s advisor—nope, no one’s ever taking it up.
“Just what can we do…? Aah, just what can we do…?”
“Just what can we do, huh…”
A reply comes as though it’s only natural after a monologue slipped out from me, my eyes shut.
I slowly open my eyes and there Ako is, meeting my gaze with a grin and her knees on the floor.
“Why are you here?”
“Naturally, to greet you for the morning, dear master.”
My classmates around, engrossed in their conversations, turn quiet for an instant. Before resuming. But it is obvious those glances are directed this way, just like the topics of their hushed voices.
The male gazes are practically hurting me for real; is this really alright? There won’t be any physical, lasting damage on me, will there?
“Aah, Tamaki-san. That’s in the game, it’s different in real life. How about refraining from that already?”
I calmly try remonstrating her before my classmates.
“Don’t you ‘eeh’ me.”
It’s that unwillingness you’re showing that’s letting this misunderstanding continue on.
Heck, she’s cute enough, just by putting on that unsatisfied face. Isn’t this just unfair?
Right, let’s try lecturing her from a different angle.
“Besides, that ‘master’ from earlier was more like a maid rather than a wife. That’s not right, is it?”
“Hmm-hm, is that so? T-Then—”
Ako gulps down saliva before looking up towards me and speaks in a rare, bashful manner.
“It’s almost morning… my, dar, ling. ♪”
A bewitching voice, a tender smile, and those gentle words.
That unquestionable affection in those eyes gazing upon me and that expression backing up them up with utter satisfaction.
If she was there when I woke up, I would have certainly passed that entire day in bliss.
“Oh, Ako, the bell rang. How about you get back already?”
And I fling those all into the distance with all I had.
“Everything! I put my everything into that earlier! That was really touching if I do say so myself! And you’re ignoring that here?!”
It appears even Ako was embarrassed after those words earlier as she speaks with a sincerely hurt tone.
Sure, that earlier had quite the impact, but you see, stuff like that’s a little stifling.
“Nn, your status points aren’t sufficient for those words just yet, Ako.”
“Khh, so I lack love! Can I up it as my level increases?”
“Life Offline assigns them automatically, so you can’t quite ensure that, can you?”
If you can pick the skills to improve, my life would never have ended up this way. Upon replying with that in mind, Ako’s hands ball up into fists in anguish before quietly peeking at me.
“…Recruiting, 1 husband, love spec., please.”
“I apologize, but the wife slot’s full even if you look up at me with those eyes filled with hope.”
“Hey, the both… khh…”
Segawa clenches her fists with an expression showing just how much she wanted to interject from a delicate distance away.
It will be so much easier for her if only she let herself loose too.
“Everyone, please get to your seats quickly, the bell’s going to ring.”
And Saitou-sensei enters while saying so. As she steps towards the teaching platform, her feet suddenly come to a stop before my desk.
“My, Tamaki-san. It’s good to see you’re around today as well. Still, you should return to Class 1 soon, the bell will ring.”
“O-Okay. Then, Nishimura-kun, see you…”
Her voice turning into a whisper with the teacher before her, Ako leaves the classroom.
“…Nishimura-kun, are you on good terms with Tamaki-san?”
Saitou-sensei asks after seeing off Ako.
Putting all that about her being my wife aside, I do think of Ako as a good friend. It may be gone soon enough, but we are fellow club members too.
“Yes, we are.”
“I see. Then please get along with her. I’m sure Tamaki-san will appreciate that as well.”
She happily nods in satisfaction.
Erm, that seems exactly like how a teacher would react when a problematic child turns good, but just how is she, normally? It felt like a chill ran down my back.
Come to think of it, I was considering asking about the advisor thing, wasn’t I?
“That’s right, Saitou-sensei, won’t you be our club advisor?”
I try asking and she tilts her head, puzzled.
“Oh, Nishimura-kun, you were in a club?”
“The Modern Communications-Electronics Recreation Club.”
I reply so while feeling somewhat impressed that she actually bothered remembering her students’ clubs.
Saitou-sensei’s reaction heads in the opposite direction of mine.
“…Ah, that. The one where the president, Goshouin-san…”
She says while even letting out a wary sigh.
Just what have you done to make her like this, Master?
And to add on, she even voices out as though scolding me with a stern look on.
“As a teacher, I don’t intend on lecturing my students over their private hobbies, but personally, I can’t recommend online games. It really is dangerous getting too deep into them. It can even influence your life to a point beyond saving. And I think it would be best to not play them even at school.”
I can’t say anything against all that.
I get it, but I can’t stop; that’s just how it is.
Still, she has a pretty good grasp of online games, huh?
“Huh, you know quite a lot about online games, don’t you, teacher?”
I ask and she speaks softly, at a volume only I can hear.
“I played them a fair bit just a while ago.”
“Seriously?! Then, please, be our advisor!”
“Like I said, I won’t.”
She shows a wry smile before tapping my head with the attendance record.
“It’s important not plunging too deep into games like those. Students rarely have that restraint, so it’s best to not lay your hands on them.”
“But do you have the time for them as an adult?”
“That’s the problem, isn’t it?”
As though she wasn’t really stopping me in full seriousness, she simply shakes her head in resignment.
The bell chimes at that moment.
Her face jerks upwards and she turns towards the noisy class before speaking.
“Come on now, take your seats, everyone. I’ll be starting homeroom!”
The recruitment failed.
Nn, now what? If even a teacher who played them shows a reaction like this, it’s hardly going to go well with the other ones…
Though my worries continued on throughout the lessons, nothing good came to mind in the end.
Even the club activities starting did nothing against those worries.
The same goes for all four of us.
“Rusian, Master, I thought up of something good!”
“…I can’t imagine this leading to anything worthwhile, but go on.”
“I think that if the club’s abolished, we will only need to make a new one each time. Like, the Modern Communications-Electronics Recreation Club 2!”
“Ooh, that sounds good!”
“Don’t put an idea that risky into Master’s head!”
“…Hey, all of you.”
No matter how hard we pondered, over and over again, no answer came to mind.
I wander through the town late in the night.
Naturally, not the town in real life but the one in-game.
I obviously enjoy myself playing with Ako and the rest like always, but there’s this sense of enjoyment that comes with playing solo like this too. Like leisurely glancing through the stores or hunting with a different character from usual. I believe playing solo’s a source of enjoyment, too, when it comes to online games.
I’m the tank who endures enemies’ attacks from the front during party play, but I went back to hunting with the old great sword I used back then for today. Though it’s fun serving as my allies’ shield, I enjoy cutting apart enemies all I want too.
It’s just the thing to keep my mind off those worries.
Come to think of it, Ako said she wanted a new staff, didn’t she? She’s totally the type to throw a fortune into some cute, amusing item if I were to leave her alone. Guess I’ll take care of that before she does.
I meander through the town with that in mind. After passing through the user shop area where players set their own prices, I turn my legs towards the official auction house just as a female character with cat ears crossed my path while gazing across the shops.
Feeling that character’s appearance to be somewhat familiar, I put a stop to Rusian’s steps.
Made with an atmosphere far more trendy and cute than some serious battle MMO, characters in LA have quite a degree of customization available. It’s rare enough even finding a similar character. What stimulated my memory was not just her appearance. This sight of her and me—Rusian equipped with a large sword—lined up triggered this sense of déjà vu.
Opening the options settings, I switch the usually unchecked ‘Display All Characters’ Names’ on. This should show that person’s name as well. I fix my mouse cursor on her to confirm her name—just as a bubble appears atop the girl.
◆ Nekohime: Huh, Rusian? That’s you, Rusian, is it nyot?
◆ Rusian: Eh…
Seeing the name of the girl displayed on the screen alone is enough for me to conclude why I practically knew I had seen her before.
◆ Nekohime: I knyew it was you, Rusian! Wow, that brings me back, nya!
The main reason for my trauma.
The cat girl whose adorable outward features hid the actual GIRL inside.
◆ Rusian: Nekohime, san…
That Nekohime-san who was my angel two years back.
◆ Nekohime: It’s been a long time, Rusian. You’re still playing this game even nyow?
◆ Rusian: I-It’s been a while. Of course I am.
I reply in the chat, shaken by Nekohime-san just as I remember him.
Calm down, down, down. It’s been two years since. I’m different from how sad I was back then too.
◆ Nekohime: Thank goodnyess… You left in the guild after that, so I worried you might have left the game too, nya.
Looking on at Nekohime-san who apologized with the hands clasped together motion, I calmly conclude that she really is cute. Getting fooled back then was only understandable and justified.
◆ Rusian: Of course I’m still around. Even after leaving the guild, I still talk to the members from then nowadays and I consider that time with you, Nekohime-san, to be a really fruitful experience. That formed the basis of my current creed.
◆ Nekohime: Ooh, is it nyow? By the way, what is that creed?
◆ Rusian: IRL doesn’t matter, but there are no girls in online games!
◆ Nekohime: Nyahahahaha
Clapping her hands together, Nekohime-san laughs in high spirits.
◆ Nekohime: Those don’t go together, nya. But I do get what you mean, nya.
Well, of course, you would, Nekohime-san and the man behind!
◆ Rusian: So, what about you, Nekohime-san? I heard you disappeared a little while after I left.
◆ Nekohime: I’ve been busy after I started work, nya. I only logged in for a bit after hearing about games IRL today for the first time in a while, but I’m nyot on much usually, nya.
◆ Rusian: Oh, really?
So he’s a working adult? He did say he was some old guy.
In that case, this meeting’s quite an amazing coincidence.
I didn’t expect it myself either, but with how we’re speaking, it looks like I don’t have any reservations at all towards Nekohime-san. In a sense, I seem to feel relieved instead, knowing he’s a man inside. There’s no need to keep up appearances after what we’d gone through; we can talk normally.
◆ Rusian: Erm, Nekohime-san. If you’re alright with it… mind if I consult you on a matter?
◆ Nekohime: Hmm? What is it, nya?
The older girl I first fell in love with—nah, I mean, he’s some old guy, but I still begin speaking about Ako, feeling as though I’m relying on someone like that.
◆ Rusian: ——And so, she can’t tell RL and the game apart at all and no matter how hard I work at it, it just doesn’t work out.
◆ Nekohime: I see, nya, sounds like you’ve got it hard, nya.
Though it ended up rather long, Nekohime-sama listened to all of it without getting distracted.
And at the end, she nods solemnly as she speaks.
◆ Nekohime: I think what you’re doing is correct, nya, Rusian. That girl is, well… at risk, nya. It’s okay nyow since Rusian’s a particular good boy, but she would have gone through something extremely harsh if she had taken even another step wrong, nya. I see you truly treasure her, Rusian. You should be proud of yourself, nya.
◆ Rusian: I’m relieved if you think so.
That’s right, isn’t it? If I wasn’t the one who met Ako, that level of trust she has would have put her in great danger. I’m all the more worried now after really getting to know her. Of her being fooled by some shady man.
◆ Nekohime: Besides, men who go “We’re married in-game, so you’re my wife IRL too, guhehe” disgust me, nya.
◆ Rusian: I do understand that! That’s exactly why I want to do something about it, you know?!
You didn’t have to point that out! I’m no e-flirt, I’m not anyone like that!
◆ Nekohime: Nyahaha, I’m just kidding, nya.
After laughing so, Nekohime-san continues.
◆ Nekohime: Still, I have read research about the harmful influences, the perils children put themselves into lately after becoming too attached to the cyberspace, nya, but… it certainly isn’t a pretty picture experiencing it first-hand like this, is it, nya?
With something somewhat difficult.
◆ Rusian: Research?
◆ Nekohime: Aah, you can ignore that, nya.
Does he work in a related field? No, honestly, I don’t have any interest about what Nekohime-san is like in real life and would rather not know, though.
Nekohime-san goes, “Hmm”, troubled.
◆ Nekohime: Of course, you should do what you feel best with regards to that girl, nya, Rusian. It would be best to talk it out with the both of you, nya. But on the other hand, I believe it just as important to convey to her that her way of thinking could lead to problems, nya. It may be dangerous if she were to end up meeting with some other man aside from Rusian, nya.
◆ Rusian: That’s true, I do worry about how things would go if she kept it up… Thank you very much, that’s a load off my mind. I guess I’ll find a good time to discuss it with her, after all.
◆ Nekohime: That’s for the best, nya. Nekohime-san’s relieved too, with such levelheaded kids around, nya.
◆ Rusian: A-Ahaha…
I can’t help but let out a bitter laugh if he’s going to say something that stodgy.
◆ Nekohime: Well, anyway, it’s getting late, nya. It’s about time for good students to go to bed, nya.
◆ Rusian: Got it. Erm, if you’re okay with it, would you mind if I consult with you again?
◆ Nekohime: Of course, nya.
Nekohime-san cheerfully says.
◆ Nekohime: I’m concerned if everything turns out for the best too, nya, so I’ll log in from time to time, nya. Do call out to me whenever you see me, nya.
◆ Rusian: Thank you very much!
Our nostalgic chance meeting ends on that note.
Yep, that’s right, I really should speak with Ako. That’s the best for Ako herself too.
“Good morning, my darling. ♪”
“……Ako, no, Tamaki-san.”
Learning nothing from her previous experiences, Ako comes yet again the next morning.
There’s a part of me attracted to her, showing only genuine warmth without the slightest tinge of ill will, but I stifle that with Nekohime-san’s words and speak out strongly.
“Tamaki-san, that’s not right.”
“I’m not Rusian but Nishimura.”
“Eh, ah, yes, Nishimura-kun.”
It’s good that she listens to that much.
I take a deep breath and continue looking straight into Ako’s face.
“Hey, Tamaki-san, I said this countless times already, but it’s different in the game and in real life. We are married in the game, but we are only normal schoolmates in the same grade outside of it. I don’t mind at all talking with you normally, but it does trouble me when you approach me without any distrust like this.”
“Besides, this isn’t just about me. Don’t you think it’s dangerous letting your guard down so much without knowing the other party well enough? It’ll be good for you, too, Tamaki-san. —You understand, don’t you?
I had prepared quite a bit before saying all that, but Ako shows no response in particular and stares straight towards me. Unlike the shock she showed when I first said that the game was different from real life, this is more of an inquisitive expression. Why would she have such a look on?
“That’s why you shouldn’t call me your husband or say that we’re married so easily, you should show more restraint, so we—”
“Rusian, who were you talking to?”
Ako-san? Whatever could you be saying?
“You met someone, didn’t you? And that someone told you something? Who? It’s not Master, neither is it Schw-chan. It’s someone else, someone aside from them, someone who was able to influence you, Rusian. And who is that? Hey, Rusian, who is that?”
Ako speaks indifferently yet draws closer towards me with those words.
“C-Calm down, Ako.”
“I am perfectly calm, aren’t I?”
“Y-Yeah, I guess.”
Ako’s words and attitude are calm. On that note, I’m the one in a fluster. I’d even turned back to calling her Ako instead, now that I noticed.
That said, she looks completely out of it somewhere unseen, somewhere invisible on the surface. How do I say this? It’s like a boss monster whose movement patterns change upon suffering damage, that’s it.
—That’s way too scary.
I shiver from those terrifying thoughts and Ako opens her mouth with that flat expression still on.
“Rusian, could that someone be female?”
“N-No, no, that’s not it.”
“I see, so she is.”
She speaks while peering into my eyes.
Hold on, wait, aren’t you misunderstanding things?! Don’t hold such conviction in your misunderstanding!
“W-What is it, Ako? What’s gotten into you?”
“Listen, Rusian. Wives are capable of seeing through their husbands’ affairs with a single look.”
Ako says with a perfectly composed look.
You don’t get it! You aren’t getting it despite asserting that so confidently!
“No, no, no, I haven’t been cheating on you with anyone!”
Wait, in the first place, we aren’t like that, Ako!
“Sure, I did ask that someone for advice. His avatar’s a female character, but it’s okay. It’s a he inside.”
“…So she is female.”
Her voice comes in, though I’m not sure that came from my ears or somewhere else.
This is getting scarier by the minute, b-but is this okay?
“I’ll say this until you’re satisfied, but he’s—or rather, he’s apparently some old guy, you know? You don’t have to worry about a thing, okay, Ako?”
“Ahaha, what are you talking about? I’m not bothered in the slightest.”
Your tone’s bright, but those eyes aren’t laughing at all, Ako.
“Still, Rusian, I would love to greet her myself, so would you mind giving me her name?”
“…That scared me the most out of everything you’ve said so far, Ako.”
“What are you saying, Rusian? I’m not quite sure I understand.”
Ako speaks with a smile that looks pasted on. I’m the one not getting you, you hear?
“I mean, what kind of greeting would that be? There’s no need at all to greet some simple friend of mine.”
“After all, she took some time to listen you out and even dispensed that ‘valuable’ advice, didn’t she? It would be my absolute pleasure to exchange some words with her.
“I will never say it!”
Scary, scary, scaary!
“It’s okay, please tell me.”
“It appears you don’t know when to give up… not even I can hold back my anger from reaching rapture, you know…?”
“Your Japanese’s turning weird, hey.”
It seems Ako truly is angry, but that anger’s directed in an odd direction. She’s not angry over how I first said to consider our positions, but more over the influence on me from Nekohime-san’s words. Is that anger or jealousy?
“Rusian… if you resist any further, you’re getting shipped.”
“Rusian’s getting shipped!”
Woah, Ako’s going mad! What am I, livestock?!
“Everyone, take your seats, the bell’s going to ring.”
The teacher comes in with excellent timing.
“Now, let’s start homeroom. Tamaki-san, you should be on your way back.”
Ako’s shyness is as always: seems she lacks the will to retort against a teacher regardless of how incensed she gets.
I rack my brain over what I should be doing with Ako as she turns back countless times while leaving the classroom.
◆ Rusian: …And that’s how it was all exposed.
Several days later, I ended up consulting with Nekohime-san in LA once again. It may make Ako that much more mad if she finds out, but life will go on.
◆ Nekohime: You’re easy to read, after nya, Rusian.
Nekohime-san laughs cheerfully at my story.
◆ Rusian: I don’t think that can all be summed up with me being easy to read. I was almost shipped out.
◆ Nekohime: Ranran’s getting shipped out, nya.
Stop it with the shipping out, please.
Nekohime-san continues onto a new subject with a “Putting that aside, nya”.
◆ Nekohime: Still, Rusian. That might mean she has always been looking at you, nya. Perhaps her feelings are real, nya?
Real—in what sense?
Isn’t thinking like that the first step towards becoming an e-flirt?
◆ Rusian: That’s… what is it, are you against me too, Nekohime-san?
◆ Nekohime: I’m just kidding, nya. But Rusian, Getting too worked up isn’t good either, nya. If you push her too large, you might just set off a huge bomb, nya?
◆ Rusian: That… sounds scary, but
That time was close enough to a small explosion, so how would a huge one end up? I won’t even know how to start apologizing if Segawa, sitting nearby, gets involved and set off secondary explosions.
◆ Nekohime: …Huh?
A question mark pops atop Nekohime-san’s head with that and she looks across the area.
◆ Rusian: What is it?
◆ Nekohime: It’s just… a message from someone, nya. I apologize, but I’ll take my leave here, nya. Rusian, let’s talk again, nya?
Oh, a message from someone else?
Nekohime-san’s has always been popular, I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets messages from all sort of people. I almost feel bad for having him spend his meager login time on me like this.
◆ Rusian: Yes, of course. Thank you very much for hearing me out.
◆ Nekohime: I’m sorry for not listening until the end, nya. Let’s talk over it properly next time, nya.
◆ Rusian: Yes, see you.
I see off Nekohime-san as she leaves.
It’s always so relaxing talking with her. Guess this is what they mean by experience coming with age.
Now then, I should check through the shops’ goods and log off—or so I was thinking before my eyes land on a familiar silhouette.
A black-haired female character clothed in a white robe.
A familiar guild emblem shows atop her head just like over mine.
The one I didn’t want to see most at this time.
◆ Ako: Fufufu… I saw that, Rusian…
◆ Rusian: Y-You… Ako…
She saw me. Ako saw me discussing with Nekohime-san.
I feel Ako’s wrath through the monitor. Crap, though it’s not exactly like what Nekohime-san said, I can’t help fretting over this ending as a huge explosion. What can I do, what can I do?
◆ Ako: So that person earlier was the person you asked for advice from?
◆ Rusian: Y-Yeah. That’s right.
I answer in dread and Ako shows the emoticon for overflowing anger as she howls.
◆ Ako: So, she… girls who go “Nya ♪” like that are to your tastes, Rusian?! Are you saying that she’s your ideal?!
◆ Rusian: Like I said, we aren’t like—
◆ Ako: So, Rusian, that type’s to your tastes, nya?!
◆ Rusian: I don’t have anything for ending sentences with that! You didn’t have to change that!
On that note, Ako’s like a cat with its fur standing on end and going “fukii!”.
Woah, she’s mad, Ako’s mad.
Not to mention, this is, unfortunately, in the game unlike normally. Even when considering her slight tendency towards jealousy, the fault lies with me.
It’s not like I won’t feel a little jealous if I were to see Ako happily talking with another man in-game either.
That’s why I should be resolving this misunderstanding and apologizing—
◆ Rusian: That’s not it, it’s not like that, that’s just a somewhat old acquaintance. Didn’t I say before, about that GIRL I confessed to? That’s Nekohime-san.
At any rate, let’s try explaining the situation in detail. I meekly speak without hiding anything.
Ako keeps her silence for some time at that before pressing me further.
◆ Ako: The one Rusian confessed to… what…
Ah, not good, I might have gone and said too much.
Ako’s anger getting worse.
◆ Ako: I won’t forgive that envio… luc… outrageo… erm, GIRL who, erm, betrayed you so horribly
◆ Rusian: Your thoughts are getting out despite you typing this out.
◆ Ako: I wanted a proposal from Rusian too! Tell me you love me!
◆ Rusian: No, I am sorry about that…
Looks like Ako has been holding back quite some stress.
From her point of view, my wanting to widen the distances between us in real life may have been difficult on her. I should apologize properly. That was when Ako typed into the chat.
◆ Ako: With things at this stage, I’ll have to teach that woman a lesson…
◆ Rusian: Wait, stop that, you idiot!
Hey, hey, hey, Nekohime-san has nothing to do with this! What do you have in mind for her?!
I speak in a fluster towards Ako on the verge of berserking.
◆ Rusian: Listen, there are lines even when it comes to jokes. I was just getting advice and nothing else. I’ll never forgive you if you cause any trouble, you hear? Go ahead and complain to me all you like, I’ll apologize, but please don’t pull others in.
◆ Ako: Rusian… you like her that much…?
◆ Rusian: I said you were wrong. I’m serious in saying that this time. I don’t like it when you don’t listen, Ako.
◆ Ako: Ugh… but… I understand…
Ako doesn’t seem satisfied but still nodded. She nodded, but… will she really be okay? Don’t cause any problems for Nekohime-san, please.
Whether she knew of those feelings of mine or not, Ako hurried away from me.
◆ Ako: Well, I have a little something to handle, so I’ll be going now.
◆ Rusian: Handle?
◆ Ako: I likely won’t be at the usual place today.
◆ Rusian: …I see. I’ll see you, then.
◆ Ako: Okaay
After saying so, she ran off somewhere.
She said she wouldn’t, but still, she might—I waited at the cafe with that mind, but in the end, Ako didn’t come.
In actual fact, it’s really, really rare for Ako who’s around practically everyday to be away from the usual place.
“Just what is she thinking…”
I stare off into space in the morning classroom with my bag left atop my desk.
I would have been chatting with one person or another in the past, but with Ako regularly coming over daily, I ended up waiting for her. There she would be, gently pulling on my sleeve while I talked to my classmates; not to mention the effectively murderous glares from those still single too. It’s no use just saying that we aren’t like that.
“Okay, good morning, everyone.”
Saitou-sensei enters a little before the bell rings.
She heads towards the teaching platform—and stops her feet before me.
“Hold on, Nishimura-kun, Tamaki-san isn’t here today?”
“Eh? Aah, Ako… Tamaki-san? Erm, we didn’t have anything on in particular, so I wouldn’t know, but I guess she’s not? It’s this late and all.”
Saitou-sensei has a complicated look on as she looks at me.
Why would she ask about Ako?
“So, what about it?”
I ask and she speaks with an extremely solemn expression.
“Listen, Nishimura-kun, are you dating Tamaki-san?”
That strange noise leaked out. You’re asking your student that, teacher?! Where’s the subtlety?!
“N-No, no. We aren’t like that.”
“Really? I won’t say anything about illicit sexual relationships and such, so there’s no need to hold back, you know?
Yeah, I get that. You aren’t all that strict as a teacher, after all. I’m sure of that much, just by the fact that you played online games previously.
“Really really. Ako just doesn’t have many friends, that’s probably why she’s with me.”
Saitou-sensei surprisingly nods and speak after I make up a desperate excuse that I didn’t think she would believe while waving my hands.
“You see, I serve as the Literary Club’s advisor, so the library assistants are under me too. Tamaki-san is one of them too, so I had called out to her several times during the meetings. However, she just wouldn’t speak. After I asked her class’s homeroom teacher, it seems she’s always silent in class too.”
She wasn’t kidding around when she said she had no friends, after all?
She said she often takes breaks from school too, but… hmm, yeah, even when hearing it from others like this, it just doesn’t feel Ako-ish.
“She’s totally different in front of me, though…”
“Yes, that’s why I was shocked. Wow, I didn’t think she’s like that! You know? I was thinking along the lines of her being herself in front of her boyfriend, though.”
“That’s not it, she stinks of geekishness too, she’s just able to speak in front of her fellow comrades.”
“…Well, that does happen…”
She nods. So she really did experience that?
Guess people like us really do get a pointless buff to all of our stats in front of those we can understand. That’s that forced debuff in front of those we can’t in return, though.
“…Hey, Nishimura-kun, how about you try going over to Tamaki-san’s class next time?”
“If they see how Tamaki-san acts before you, I’m thinking that she can make some friends in her class too.”
“Good idea, isn’t it?”, she happily says.
Still, should I?
“I wonder, there’s the chance that she ends up not replying even when spoken to in the end, making it needlessly awkward.”
“Ahaha, there isn’t. There are some geeks hidden among the girls too.”
“…Is that so?”
“Yes, there are. In our class, there’s Segawa and such, right?”
I maintain my “no comment” stance after she says so with a bright smile.
Oh, Schwein, how pathetic it is, to think you’ve been exposed…
Schw and Master were already there when I reached the clubroom after getting through my cleaning duties after classes.
However, I don’t see the girl who I wanted to see most.
“Eh, where’s Ako?”
“That’s the first thing you say? Shouldn’t you be saying something else?”
Spinning her chair, Segawa glares this way. Her face’s pretty cute after you get used to it.
“Yeah, good morning, Segawa.”
“…How about you say that in the morning? It’s evening.”
Aren’t you the one who gets mad if I call out to you in the morning?
I apologize despite thinking that inside.
“Greetings are important, good afternoon, Rusian. …Now then, with regards to Ako, it appears she has taken the day off according to what I ascertained at the staff room.”
“…From the club?”
“Duh, she doesn’t look like the type to come to school and skip the club.”
Her taking frequent breaks from school in the first place have been backed up by a teacher and herself, so I suppose this would have happened eventually.
I was somewhat uneasy that it might have been my fault, but it’s all right if that’s how it is, maybe?
“Anyway, be sure to tell me early if we’re taking the day off. You even made me walk all the way here to the clubroom.”
Segawa shrugs, picks up her bag, and gets off her seat.
“Huh, you aren’t playing?”
“If we were doing this for the sake of changing how Ako thinks, what’s the point when she isn’t around?”
“That’s true, but…”
Still, there isn’t much time we have left in this club.
We won’t be in school over the weekends starting tomorrow. After the first staff meeting happening next week, they would declare this club abolished. I don’t know when they would do it—but it wouldn’t even be odd for today to be our last time.
“I guess I will. Master, what about you?”
I look at Master and she laughs and nods.
“Certainly, I will accompany you. The club could hardly run properly without its president.”
“It would, thanks.”
She walks to her computer and turns it on. She sits down on the chair and watches as it starts up—
Both of us turn our looks upon Segawa who, despite standing from her seat, remains immobile within the room.
“Ugh… i-if you insist so much, I guess I’ll play with you.”
“Not like we said anything.”
You just can’t be honest until the end, even if you wanted to participate in the club activities.
“We don’t have a healer, so let’s not go too far.”
“It’s not like it would really change much with her around or not.”
“Ako isn’t that bad either, hey.”
I log in into the game with a bitter smile.
◆ Rusian: …Why are you here?
◆ Ako: Ah, Rusian. Good morning.
As though it’s only natural, Ako’s there despite taking the day off.
“Just what is she doing?”
“That would be how Ako is, wouldn’t it?”
Master shows a composed smile but I can’t help but interject.
◆ Rusian: Don’t you good morning me, what’s with school, weren’t you resting?
◆ Ako: …I have something important up, so I had to deal with the various preparations at home.
Ako seems rather hesitant.
She would reply instantly normally no matter what I ask. The presence she’s giving off is obvious enough.
◆ Rusian: Something important? What’s up? No, you don’t have to reply if it’s not something you should be saying.
◆ Ako: Erm… I was getting ready for an offline meeting.
Ako says something odd.
“Offline meeting? Master, did you have something planned again?”
“I did not?”
Master shakes her head.
Then, what’s with that offline meeting?
The Alleycats guild’s next offline meeting… I can interpret it as that?
◆ Rusian: You want to organize the next offline meeting, Ako?
I hesitantly ask and Ako shakes her head.
◆ Ako: No, I am personally meeting with another person I know.
◆ Rusian: Oh… what did you say?
This can’t end well.
She would explode spectacularly if I press too hard—I recall Nekohime’s words.
“Meeting with someone aside from us offline?”
I timidly ask after exchanging looks with the pair.
◆ Rusian: An offline meeting with just the both of you… with a girl, right?
◆ Ako: …He said he was male himself.
◆ Rusian: Wait, hey!
“Haah?! Don’t screw with me?!”
“Oh wow, looks like she’s serious. What do we do about this?”
Schw has a complicated expression on while Master’s doubtful.
No, putting them aside, what about Ako? What is she thinking?
◆ Rusian: Stop it, you idiot, why are you putting yourself at risk?
◆ Ako: It’s no danger at all, it’s necessary.
◆ Rusian: To meet with some man IRL?!
◆ Ako: That’s… anyway, nothing you’re afraid of will happen, Rusian, so please do not worry.
◆ Rusian: Even if you say that…
That’s just what Ako thinks, there’s no telling what the other party has in mind.
Geez, no helping it. I am a little worried and there’s that with Nekohime-san too; I should follow up at least.
◆ Rusian: Ah, then I’ll go too. There’s no issue with me going if it’s an LA offline meeting, right?
◆ Ako: T-That’s… you can’t!
Ako showed a shocking level of rejection to my proposal.
◆ Rusian: Why’s that, I know almost everyone you know, anyway, Ako…
◆ Ako: You can’t, definitely! No matter what, I especially won’t take you with me, Rusian!
“…What’s that supposed to mean.”
Especially me, she says?
I’m worried for you here—I don’t intend to begrudge her on that at all, but it is annoying with her refusing that hard. What will you do if something really happens? There’s no undoing it later on.
I fret over the words I should tell Ako before chat messages from Master and Schw who logged in after me appears.
◆ Schwein: Hold on, Ako, this isn’t like you. Rusian’s even putting him out to accompany you, why are you so insistent on refusing?
◆ Apricot: Indeed, normally, you would have pulled him along in bliss, Ako, making a ruckus over him being your husband, wouldn’t you? What is the matter?
◆ Ako: Ugh…
Ako goes silent at the pair’s question.
I didn’t go that far, though.
◆ Rusian: No, I’m not saying you should bring me along because we’re married or anything. Games are different from real life and it’s not like I want to go to show off that status. That said, it definitely is dangerous, I’m not berating you or anything, but it’s best if you aren’t alone, even if it’s not me, how about Schw or Master—
Go with you—Ako’s chat message appeared before I typed that out.
◆ Ako: R-Right. I mean, games are different from RL, aren’t they?!
◆ Rusian: …Huh?
Those words look like they were typed out in a hurry.
That was definitely not an Ako-ish way to saying it, but what really astonished me was the content of that message.
◆ Ako: Rusian, you always say that the game is different from RL, don’t you? Even when I ask what’s so different, you wouldn’t give a proper answer yet insist that the game is different from real life. …So even if I meet with someone else IRL, how would it matter to you, Rusian?
◆ Rusian: A-Ako… you…
My hands stop typing.
Ako’s words exceeded my thoughts that much.
◆ Ako: Or rather, why are you so worried about me, Rusian? Aren’t you the one acting strange, then? You aren’t married to me IRL, so we’re just strangers without anything at all binding us, aren’t we? Games are different from real life, aren’t they?
There were nothing wrong with Ako’s words.
I did say so. I didn’t go as far as to claim we are strangers, but I’m certainly in no position to forbid her from meeting with another man. Rather, I had always been telling Ako that I can’t be in that position, that I won’t.
◆ Ako: Rusian, what’s so different between games and real life?
I can say nothing in reply to those words.
With her character taking one, two steps away as I descend into silence, Ako speaks.
◆ Ako: So, I’ll be going. That’s fine with you, isn’t it, Rusian?
Games are different from real life. So it doesn’t matter. I have no right to interfere. Not even the right to worry. Not even the right to reply her and to let her go.
—Well, yeah, that’s exactly right, I don’t have any words to answer her.
But still, hey, you, did you have to say that here and now?!
Aah, fine, I get it, go ahead if that’s what you want!
◆ Rusian: …Yeah, do as you like.
“Are you sane, Rusian?”
The pair answers in real life to the in-game chat message. That’s annoying in its own way. What’s wrong with that, it has nothing to do with me, anyway!
◆ Rusian: It’s as you said. I’m not your husband in real life, so I have absolutely nothing to do with you meeting someone there. I have no reason at all to stop you! Well, I’m sorry, for meddling in someone else’s business! How about you go and enjoy yourself?! It’s not like it has anything to do with me, whatever happens to you!
I strike them hard enough to hurt my fingers and shut down LA’s client immediately after.
I don’t want to talk to Ako any longer, neither do I want to see her.
“Rusian, what Ako has said is justified in accordance with your usual behavior. There is no reason for you snapping at her.”
Master says and I glare hard at her and reply.
“I get it, I get that! But even if I get it, I can’t accept it, that’s why I can’t say anything, how about you understand that much!”
“Don’t apologize, why should you apologize, Master? Besides, Ako is the one acting weird. She would never say that usually, knowing how Rusian would react. I’ll go ask her, so hold on… ah, hey!”
Ignoring Schw typing away on her keyboard, I stand from my seat and head out of the clubroom.
“It’s fine, don’t bother. This is okay. Ako gets that games are different from real life and accepts that we aren’t married in real life. The club served its purpose too, and I’m no e-flirt. What’s so bad about it all? Even if something horrible happens to Ako, who cares?!”
“Wha, you, wait—”
I slam the door shut with all my might.
Aah, this pisses me off.
Of course I’m pissed off. That Ako’s meeting with some guy alone by herself offline; doesn’t she get how dangerous that is? Why did she think I was trying so desperately to get her to see that?
And not to mention, even if I were to ignore her meeting with that man offline after all that in the end, she goes on about how games are different from real life to just me… aah, that’s right, they are different, there’s nothing between us. She’s just all lively in front of me because we connect on those topics! I’m just someone like a closet geek friend who she can talk about stuff like that with! That’s nothing special between us!
Damn it, something just pisses me off!
It’s morning, the start of a new day with the sun high in the sky, and yet the irritation still remains in my chest.
I roll over on my bed and look up at the ceiling.
My mind’s foggy, it’s absolutely murky in there.
Even when I shut my eyes and try to think about anything else, all that pops up in my head is Ako.
Rusian, Rusian—the image of Ako’s smile as she nudges up to me sticks to my consciousness and refuses to let go.
It’s evening now. She must have met with that man by now.
I wonder if she would have on that smile that I thought she would only show before me?
I wonder, would she have that smile I thought she would show only before me when she’s with that other man too?
What the heck are these emotions filling me when I imagine that scene? Did I have that much excess energy to spare? I tighten my grip as though to expend that. But still, that was still lacking and I clench down on my teeth hard.
A mild taste of blood spreads throughout my mouth.
That taste reeking of metal stimulates those horrible scenes in my imagination.
Has Ako gotten into anything dangerous? Has anything horrible happened to her?
My body trembles from those thoughts alone, resisting any attempt to stay still.
It may be more relaxing to just run out now. Maybe I should. But I remain in my room as an eternity passes.
I can’t tear those words from Ako at the end from my mind even now.
[Rusian, what’s so different between games and real life?]
Even now, I have no reply for that from Ako.
“Aah, geez, damn it.”
I get up and start up the computer in my room.
Absentmindedly starting up LA.
I thought Ako could be around, but naturally, she isn’t.
Instead, both Master and Schw are sitting there. Thinking they have great timing, I call out to them, but chat bubbles appear on their heads before I could.
◆ Apricot: So you’re here, Rusian.
◆ Schwein: Hold on, exactly what are you doing here?!
Having abandoned her roleplaying as Schwein, Segawa approaches me straight away.
What is it, just what are you on about?
◆ Rusian: That’s some greeting, huh, what is it?
◆ Schwein: What do you mean, what is it, she’s—
◆ Apricot: Now, now, calm down, Schw.
Master speaks while patting Schw’s shoulder.
◆ Apricot: Schw’s went to the trouble of asking yesterday, but it appears Ako’s offline meeting is set at six in the evening.
What’s with that, what’s that guy dragging a high school girl out at night for?!
◆ Rusian: Evening? He’s totally doing of doing it, isn’t he?
◆ Apricot: Indeed. It seems he would be coming to Maegasaki as well. That was apparently Ako’s condition.
◆ Rusian: So he wants to meet her that bad? Damn, no matter how you think about it, this is definitely bad, right? Just why can’t that idiot get it?
I look at the clock; it’s just a bit more to six.
I grip my phone, thinking to call on an impulse.
But my fingers refuse to press its buttons. I would be connected to Ako with those few presses, yet these buttons feel terribly heavy.
I mean, look, what would I do if Ako didn’t pick up?
Even if she picks up, what would I do if she sounds bothered?
What would I do if I heard some unknown man speaking from beyond the phone call?
And even if she were to be happy over a phone call from me—what could I say to that?
◆ Schwein: Why aren’t you going?
◆ Rusian: …Eh?
Schw swings his sword about on the screen.
◆ Schwein: You don’t stay that far from the station, do you? You can still make it.
◆ Rusian: To go… even if you tell me that…
I look at my room’s clock after she speaks. True, it’s still a little before six and if I leave this instant and go by bicycle, I may make it.
◆ Rusian: But… it’s not like I have any right to.
◆ Schwein: What right? What kind of stupid right do you need when a friend’s in danger?!
◆ Rusian: Ako personally said she wants to meet with him alone. You’re telling me to budge into that? I don’t have any right to… she even said that.
At best, friends; at worst, schoolmates in the same grade.
I don’t have any such right if Ako’s against it. That’s why I’m so bothered, why can’t you understand?
◆ Schwein: What’s with that, you’re so stupid! Lame! I didn’t think you were such a shitty guy!
Those words that stopped being annoying when Schw turned out to be Segawa now pricked deep into me.
I’m already this annoyed and you’re still going on about that?
Maybe I should smash this irritating monitor for real. Seriously.
◆ Schwein: Well, duh, of course, Ako wouldn’t like someone so pathetic. Like, I have no idea why would she even fall for you at all in the first place. That’s right, I suppose that’s all fine, she’ll be better off tossing a husband like you aside and going for another man!
The image of Ako cuddling beside another man floats into my mind.
It’s just my imagination; what’s with this pain in my chest, really?
◆ Rusian: Why do I have to hear all this from you?!
◆ Schwein: Aren’t the two of you married?! It’s because you aren’t doing anything!
◆ Rusian: What married, that’s just in the game, isn’t it?!
What’s the point of pressing so hard, what’s with that girl?
She’s been spouting off all that just to annoy me further since earlier.
◆ Schwein: That doesn’t matter! You can do anything if only you put your mind to it!
◆ Rusian: You just don’t get it! I’m annoyed exactly because I can’t do anything, that’s why I’m worrying, that’s why I can’t get Ako out of my head!
◆ Schwein: …Hey, you.
I vent my irritation on Schw despite understanding how I’m acting.
That said, for some reason, Schw shows no sign of anger and just shakes his head in resignment.
◆ Schwein: Listen, you like Ako, don’t you? That’s fine, then, just get going already.
In return, she even goes and says something as absurd as that.
Just what is this person going on about?
◆ Rusian: You listen, there’s no way that’s true.
◆ Schwein: That is true, darn it! That’s all it looks like! Look up the chat log from a little while ago, you!
◆ Rusian: I’m in no mood for that, why can’t you read my mood a little…
◆ Schwein: Eeehh?!
I’m this bothered over Ako and despite that, Schw’s shooting her mouth off. She should think before she speak, aren’t there more important things right now?
◆ Apricot: I have been thinking, Rusian… no, Nishimura Hideki-kun.
And Master who has been watching us in silence speaks.
◆ Apricot: I believe you understand, but if I were to choose, I stand closer to Ako. I don’t believe there is too much of a need to separate the game and real life.
I know. If I left you alone with Ako, she would have pulled you over entirely, that’s why Segawa’s dragged in: to balance things out; it’s not like you separated the game and real life much from the beginning either.
◆ Apricot: From my point of view, you see, Ako mixes the game with real life far too much, but I believe, you, too, separates the game with real life far too much.
◆ Rusian: Separating them too much? Then, what, you want to go between Ako and that guy, going on about how we’re married? Well, yeah, I do think it would be nice if I can do that, though.
◆ Schwein: No, Rusian, you see, it’s all in what you’ve just said.
◆ Apricot: I had no intention of going that far.
Schw seems to have said something in the corner of my sight, but I figured I would read it later and continue the conversation.
◆ Apricot: As you do believe, Rusian and Nishimura Hideki are different. Ako and Tamaki Ako, too, are different. You are not in a relationship with Ako in reality. …But you see, aren’t you dismissing this “Rusian” who fell for Ako in the game far too much?
◆ Rusian: Dismissing… what do you mean?
I’m undervaluing “Rusian”… is that what she’s saying?
I’m belittling him too much because he’s me in-game?
◆ Apricot: Rusian is inside of you. Ako is inside of Tamaki Ako. Those are undeniable truths. And that the conclusion those lead to, is that you hold a liking for Ako-kun inside of you—am I wrong there?
Master grins like in real life.
I like Ako inside—because “Rusian” inside of me is thinking of “Ako” inside Tamaki Ako.
That may be true. The logic holds.
But, still—that’s just, that’s just.
◆ Rusian: I can’t just accept that.
No, that’s not it. Those murky feelings in me aren’t from that.
◆ Rusian: That’s not all to it, that’s not all to my feelings. Meeting, talking, coming into contact with her, and even coming to like those parts of her that aren’t quite “Ako”. The one I’m worried for now isn’t the in-game “Ako” but the one in real life, smiling so brightly by my side. I’m worried about that, I don’t want her to get hurt.
◆ Apricot: …I see.
◆ Schwein: Look, you just said it! You said you like her! Hey, can’t you hear what I’m saying? What is this, lag? Did you add me to your blacklist? Is the chat not working? Hello?!
I continue the conversation while ignoring the chat messages from both Master and Schw.
Master nods deeply at my words and speaks, satisfied.
◆ Apricot: So you do understand, don’t you, Rusian. That is enough. You have finally found your answer.
Master says with a hmm while nodding deeply.
What answer? Answer for what?
What to do about Ako? What can be done to help Ako? Was there an answer to a question like that?
No, or maybe—I see.
◆ Rusian: The answer to those words from Ako.
◆ Apricot: Indeed.
What’s so different between the game and real life, she said. I don’t understand, you’re acting strange, Rusian, she said.
But there was nothing strange about my actions.
The answer is simple. Really simple.
After all, there are plenty of things in real life that the game lacks.
Voices calling out to each other, smiles exchanged, touching fingertips, her scent that I have grown used to before I knew it. Those many things I never would have known within the game.
Perhaps Ako hates all of herself in real life, a lonely girl with no friends.
But that’s not true.
I feel glad, knowing those parts of her I would never have in the game. Unlike “Rusian” who only knows a mere facet of Tamaki Ako. I feel more, much more, for her.
◆ Rusian: That’s why they’re different. The game is different from real life. I’m not mistaken in the slightest.
◆ Apricot: That will do if you believe so.
My mood cleared up slightly. There are words I should tell her the next time I meet with her.
As expected as our Master, how dependable.
Still, the situation is as it was.
◆ Rusian: But in the end, that changes nothing, there’s nothing that can be done.
I sighed before typing that.
No matter what I think, Ako will meet that guy. She may run into danger. But I have no right to hamper that.
◆ Schwein: Hey, you listening? That’s enough already, just go and tell them, “I’m here to help out my bride”. You want to, don’t you?
◆ Rusian: Like I said, we’re married only in the game…
My hands froze upon typing that far.
Bride. That’s right, Ako’s my bride.
Well, yeah, it’s different in real life, but she’s certainly my bride in-game.
That remains the same even now, I love her.
◆ Rusian: …Right, she was my bride.
◆ Schwein: Hah?
That’s right, that’s it.
She’s my bride. She’s certainly my bride in LA.
Ako’s my bride and yet she’s meeting with someone from the game in real life?
Then, how could her husband from the game leave that alone?!
After all, she’s meeting with a man she met in-game!
That’s enough for an excuse! IT’s perfect!
◆ Rusian: Haha, hahahahaha! Well, of course, I would get annoyed! It’s only natural!
◆ Schwein: R-Rusian?
Ignoring Schw who’s drawing away, I pat her character’s shoulder.
◆ Rusian: I knew it, Schw, you get it, don’t you! I don’t feel depressed at all now! Alright, just you wait, you damned bastard who’s trying to lay his hands on my Ako! I’ll kill you, how dare you try something on another’s bride!
Both Rusian and I grip our fists tightly.
That’s right, it’s so obvious. Like I would hand Ako over to anyone else.
◆ Schwein: C-Calm down, let’s calm down, okay? There’s no need to get into any trouble here, okay?
◆ Rusian: Leave it to me, I’ll take care of it all.
I boldly guarantee.
◆ Schwein: No, that’s why I can’t leave it to you…
◆ Apricot: Hahaha, do your worst, Rusian.
◆ Rusian: Yeah!
◆ Schwein: H-Hold on?!
Schw said something again, but I have already jumped out of my room without even shutting down LA’s client. Whizzing along while clinging on tight to my bicycle, I step hard onto the pedals with all I have.
Just wait, you idiot, I’m on my way now… you’re my bride, how can I accept you meeting offline with another man as your in-game husband?!
Consciously ignoring the part inside myself coolly considering how I’m going overboard with the self-justification, I step on the pedals with enough force to break my legs.
By the time I reached the station and practically tossed the bicycle away as I got off, Ako was, wonderfully enough, just exiting the ticket gate.
“Ako… so you’re really here?”
Without any sign of noticing me trying to get my breathing back under control, Ako peers into her phone as she nervously walks forward and glances around. There’s nothing I can nitpick about her outfit, it’s adorable as always. It had a slightly more mature air during our offline meeting the other time, but her skirt seems shorter and she’s somewhat more daring this time. Is she anticipating something? —I drown out that thought as soon as it came to me.
“Anyway, I’ll have to first stop her and——wha!”
A shadow calls out towards Ako the moment I turn towards her.
Ako’s expression quickly turns soft upon hearing that—so that’s who she’s meeting offline?
The silhouette’s petite and slightly shorter than even me. I can’t tell from behind, but this must be that man. And judging from his clothes, he gives off an air of being older than us. He must be some university student—no, a working adult.
Aah, I get it. Despite already in the workforce, he’s a player who goes as far as to hunt for female high school students in online games.
That’s totally the worst. As a human, a man, an online game player, and Ako’s husband, there’s no way I will approve of him, no way I can approve of him.
I shout out loud without concern for anyone watching and dash to her side at full speed.
My legs hurt with each step, reflecting how out of shape I am, but that’s nothing if it means Ako’s safety.
Ako’s eyes turn round upon noticing me. After running before her as though to dive into those eyes, I grab her and pull her away from that man.
Ako and the man seem to have said something, but who cares!
“Shudaaaap! Don’t speak, you pervert and you hopeless idiot!”
Venting everything out, I shout at the stunned Ako without the slightest trace of hesitation.
“Ako, you’re my bride, so why are you meeting with some man offline?! I won’t allow it! Even if there’s nothing between us in real life, you’re my bride in-game, after all!”
“Do you understand?!”
Excellent! Nodding, I next turn to the man.
“Listen, this girl’s my bride. I’m not kidding around here, he’s really my bride! Aah, just in the game, though!”
Hugging Ako tightly within my arm, I glare at him.
“Of course, even if I say that, it’s in-game. My virtual bride! Even so, even if it’s in the game, I wouldn’t have married to show her off or on a whim! I love her, I can puff my chest out and say that! Listen here, Ako, I’ll never allow you to go for an offline meeting with another man alone while I still breathe!”
Despite squirming in my arm, Ako comes to a stop at my words.
A sense of relief finally escapes me as she looks at me with moist eyes while gripping onto my clothes with both hands.
—No, all the more I can’t accept this man in particular!
“I’ll never let a suspicious bastard on online games for impure reasons have her! You’re over twenty, aren’t you, hurry and get lost before I shout that you’re aiming for a minor!”
I scream while glaring at the man right in front while hugging Ako.
No, to be honest, I’m scared.
Of course I am, I’ve never been in a fight and those after girls like this are often thugs.
Still, but still, I’ll protect my bride. No matter what.
He set his eyes on my gaze, strengthened with that resolve and desperately trying to maintain its tenacity.
The man——the, man. Is that, a man, huh?
Now that I took a good look, something seems off. His hair’s long for a man and it looks like he has makeup on too; heck, he’s not even wearing men’s clothing.
He, for some reason, lets out a sigh with a tired demeanor.
“…Aah… so that was it, I see, I understand now. So Nishimura-kun is Rusian, huh?”
“Aah? What are you say…?
“Calm down, Nishimura, it’s me.”
Even if you tell me that, I wouldn’t know who the—
“A proper look could have told you that much, geez.”
After taking a good look, it seems this is Saitou-sensei, the one in charge of our class who we see on a practically daily basis, the one in her twenties and single.
I can’t deny she does look like a guy from a glance from the back with those jeans and that jacket on.
I see, so that’s it. So that’s how it is.
“…Heh, so it’s you, teacher? You’re the one going for my Ako, huh?”
“Eh? Wait, Nishimura-kun, aren’t you still mistaken? Listen, you see, I’m—”
Who cares about those excuses that damned Saitou’s mumbling out? I put more strength into the arms shielding Ako as I hide her from men.
“Hey, Ako, hurry and call the police, there’s a lesbian pervert teacher laying her hands on her own student here, they’re sure to put her in cuffs quick.”
“Wait, wait, wait! I said you’re making a mistake! I only thought about helping out with that Ako girl after you—Rusian—consulted with me over her!”
She said something inexplicable yet again.
What is this woman saying? While I cast a look of contempt towards Saitou, Ako mutters in my arms.
“Rusian, it’s her——she’s Nekohime-san.”
Nekohime-san, you say… that caring, gentle to everyone, good at games, and cute as well Nekohime-san? Ex-My-Angel Nekohime-san?
That’s that Saitou?
“Yes, that’s correct, I am Nekohime. After the discussion you brought up, Ako-san… Tamaki-san initiated a talk separately, you see—”
“Quiet, shut up, I’m not listening.”
Saitou-sensei, who conducts lessons at a leisurely pace despite her current youth and is rumored to have nothing to do with men despite saying how much she wants to get married during lessons, is Nekohime-san.
She’s Nekohime-san. The Nekohime-san who laid her hands on my Ako.
“What a despicable, shitty bastard… to think someone like this is our homeroom teacher…”
That shitty Saitou seems to have said something, but who cares?
No more waiting. I hug Ako as I slowly pull her back and speaks out forcefully.
“Ako, hurry, call the police as fast as you can. She’s definitely going straight into prison, this super-dreadnought class lesbian pervert teacher who not only ends her sentences with ‘nya ♪’ in online games to show off her cuteness but also tries to put her grubby hands on her students while pretending to be a G.I.R.L.
“D-D-D-D-Don’t be ridiculous! I’m, I’m!”
“Oh, shut up, you lesbian pervert e-flirt!”
“Don’t shout out those ridiculous things! Please, Tamaki-san, explain! You understand, don’t you?!”
The super-dreadnought class lesbian pervert teacher Saitou turns to speak with Ako.
Ako has been mostly silent beside us squabbling away since earlier.
There, she slowly makes her move.
“…Fufufu, I suppose there’s no other choice now.”
Ako looks up at me and shows a smile that seems dark somewhere.
“That is correct, that is certainly Nekohime-san who you used to love, Rusian. I called her out, so there is no mistaking that.”
“Ako called out Saitou… no, Nekohime-san? Why would you?”
“That’s because she’s deceiving you.”
Ako-san, whatever could you be saying?
Ako said it like it was only natural, but I don’t get what she means at all.
“Ako? What do you mean?”
“Tamaki-san? Didn’t you say you wanted to consult regarding your boyfriend in the same year?”
Murky laughter forces its way out of Ako at our words.
Ako felt warm, hot even, when squeezed within my arms just a moment ago, but she seems to now emit a biting cold aura.
“I knew Nekohime-san was actually female from how her words felt. That’s why, that was why I couldn’t look the other way. After all, what other choice did I have? With Rusian believing more in Nekohime-san rather than me, his wife!”
Ako’s voice was by no means loud. Still, its ominous intensity sent chills down my spine as though it’s driving deep into my chest.
“If he were to find out Nekohime-san was actually female… Rusian might have chosen her, someone else rather than me. I could never stand that. That was why I decided.”
Saying so, Ako takes out a box cutter from her chest.
It shines a dull silver under the neon lights before the station.
Ako grips it tight with both hands and… click, click, click goes the extending blade.
“H-Hey, Ako? What are you planning on doing?”
“T-Tamaki-san?! Taking out something that dangerous on the…”
Hold on, that’s not going to end as a mere joke! Knives are no good!
Showing no sign at how flustered we got, Ako speaks with force.
“She’s the witch dragging you onto the wrong path, Rusian! That’s why! As your true wife! I’ll kill that here and now!”
Immediately after those words, Ako forcefully shakes off my arms and charges towards Saitou—or she tried to before I hugged her from behind, holding her back with all I had!
“What are you doing?! Look, that’s Saitou! Our school teacher!”
I desperately try to restrain Ako and she resists just as hard, planting her feet firmly on the ground and pointing the box cutter at Saitou.
“Rusian, move aside! Or I can’t kill her!”
“I’m telling you, don’t shout out that you’re killing our school teacher! Woah, wait, stop… aah!”
Ako finally leaves my hands and dashes to Saitou-sensei. She holds onto the box cutter as though she would go, “I’ll off you!”, and in return, Saitou-sensei shows no sign of fright.
“Aah, come on… knock it off, you fool!”
Straight after she says that, a short-lived, dull noise rings out as Ako trembles.
A glance shows Saitou’s arm digging horizontally into Ako’s neck—it’s a magnificently executed lariat.
“I would rather you not think all gamers are weak and feeble. I was in the wrestling club back in school.”
Saitou-sensei raises her fist grandly as she speaks.
No, well, look, I’m not quite sure about posing so triumphantly after knocking out a student either.
It seems Saitou’s arm that shot out as a counter had the force of Ako’s charge behind it as well, shattering both the girl’s mind and the body powering that mind; Ako’s crouching down with a coughing fit.
“Ako, are you okay?”
“That goes without saying, I went easy on her. Nishimura-kun, bring Tamaki-san along here, let’s make a move. …Aah, I am very sorry, it seems these kids have caused quite a scene, ahahahaha.”
Saitou-sensei says so before showing an artificial smile towards the passersby pointing their skeptical gazes from all around. I dash to Ako crouching down and rubs her back.
“Ermm, Ako, you okay?”
“Ughh… how could I lose to…”
Ako continues squatting down as she speaks bitterly.
“You should be relieved from the bottom of your heart that you didn’t win. Rather, it wouldn’t be strange if the police go after you for carrying something this dangerous…”
I pick up the box cutter fallen on the ground and immediately notice something’s off.
It’s light. Also, the knife bit’s completely mangled.
Upon touching the box cutter with my finger, the blade easily bends.
“To do something as pointless as to make an elaborate fake cutter from aluminum foil… if it wasn’t me, it would have been a suspension from school.”
We’re receiving what can only be termed a scolding from Saitou-sensei in the cafe she brought us into.
Ako’s downhearted too, perhaps aware that she went too far.
“I logged in to LA after a long break after talking with Nishimura-kun brought up memories. And then, by coincidence, I heard there’s someone unable to differentiate between the game and reality from Rusian—no, Nishimura-kun. I am a teacher, after all, so I was worried. And that girl just happened to ask for advice from me and even said she’s a student from Maegasaki, so I couldn’t possibly leave that alone. I came all this way, thinking I would be able to personally speak with you.”
It seems that’s how it was.
“If I left things be, Nekohime will take away Rusian, so I thought I could only threaten her in a harmless manner and separate them. But Rusian would never let me if he knew, so I had to say that to anger him purposely and…”
And that seems to be how that was.
What’s with that, so it would have all been fine even if I left everything alone?
“Then, what, could I be the biggest idiot here for acting so frantic?”
“Hmm… it appears you would.”
“Oh, really, hahaha… aah, just kill me.”
My shoulders droop down beside Ako in the same posture.
With her hands on our shoulders, forcefully pulling them up, Saitou-sensei smile widely.
“Now then, it’s time for a scolding for the both of you.”
“Don’t I have nothing to do with this… no, I’m very sorry.”
I couldn’t say anything against Saitou-sensei who has a truly, really rare expression on befitting that of a “teacher”.
“Listen, Tamaki-san. Children incapable—no, purposely not separating the Internet and the real world are not too uncommon lately. Deliberately not putting any boundaries between online spaces, such as games or SNSes, and reality and using them as tools for meetups. There are many such children. You’ve made friends that way, too, and school has become more fun. I have no intention of vilifying that.”
She speaks, gently delving into Ako’s heart while looking into her eyes.
Ako’s acting timid, but still, she nods while meeting her eyes.
“But you are still a young girl. There’s always a risk. You understand that, don’t you? That is why you should understand the distinctions between the Internet and the real world. You should be showing the same wariness against those you meet online. …Tamaki-san? Could it be that you’re not mixing up games with the real world, but simply placing too much trust in games?”
She holds Ako’s hand tight as she says that.
Ako’s frame shudders, likely due to the surprise of having her hand held? Or maybe she hit the bullseye.
“Liking the ‘net more than the real world. Liking games more than the real world. Unable to put any trust in the real world but able to trust games. Yes, there’s no problem with that at all. It’s your prerogative to think so. But you see, Tamaki-san, that’s no good when it comes to your body. For example, even if you met some guy online, you can’t not be on your guard in reality. Nishimura-kun just happened to be a good boy this time round and I just happened to actually be female and a teacher, so everything ended on a good note. But if he was someone without that self-control and I was actually a man, your body might have become unfit for marriage about now, you know?”
She points at me as she speaks—wait, what are you saying while I kept quiet?! I would never do that!
“Wait, I wouldn’t have done anything like that!”
“I understand that. It’s just in the worst case scenario, you see.”
I won’t even then, geez.
My eyes happen to turn towards Ako. She’s staring at my face.
And as we exchange looks, Ako’s cheeks burst into crimson.
Turning down as though embarrassed, she fidgets while shooting glances at me.
“That’s not the right reaction to have here, is it?! Shouldn’t you be turning pale, showing a displeased face, or something to the tune of that?! Why are you going all embarrassed on me?!”
“I mean, we are married, so it’s not completely unthinkable that I wouldn’t have considered about such things as well.”
“Aaaaah, come on! You haven’t understood a single bit of what I went through so much to say, have you, Ako?!”
I scratch my head.
As I thought, she doesn’t get it at all.
So she only said that back then to stop me from meeting Nekohime-san!
Back then—aah, right.
“Geez… hey, Ako.”
My heart rate speeds up with Ako looking up at me, happy with just being called out to.
Can I say it? Should I say it? I did decide that I will say it the next time we meet.
“Back then, you know, when you asked me what’s different between the game and real life?”
Ako’s expression suddenly clouds over at my words.
“I thought about it way too much, and they’re completely different. I mean.”
I really can’t look at Ako straight any longer than this.
Lowering my eyes to the coffee cup and averting them from even my face visible on its black surface, I speak.
“I mean, you’re way cuter in real life rather than in-game.”
Ako’s face flashes crimson at the edge of my sight.
Woaah, embarrassing. This is super embarrassing.
Maybe I really shouldn’t have said it.
Or rather, I shouldn’t have gone about it in such an embarrassing manner, shouldn’t there be some other way to put it?
I failed, this was definitely a failure!
“…What is it.”
Ako glances at me, turns away, turns back to me, and repeats—after quite some hesitation, she speaks softly.
“I, when I met you in real life, Rusian—I fell harder, much harder for you.”
“……I-Is that so?”
We both turn away while throwing glances at each other, checking out the other’s reaction.
What’s with this air, it’s no good, hey, can someone please—
“Heey, both of you…? I don’t suppose you remember your teacher here…?”
“Aaah, I’m sorry, I forgot!”
Come to think of it, she is here!
“You forgot… well, guess that’s only natural with the two of you young ones, I guess.”
It looks like her “teacher mode” from earlier has reached its limit as Saitou-sensei returns to her usual impression of a slack teacher before sighing.
“Well, I’m only scolding because I have to, anyway. Just do as you like all you want and take responsibility for it as long as it doesn’t cause any trouble for me.”
“Y-Yay! Look, Rusian, we have permission from the teachers!”
“We did not! You can’t call that receiving permission! Besides, what I said earlier wasn’t like that, so don’t go mistaking anything!”
“No illicit sexual relationships, you hear?”
“Our love is pure, unlike all of those normalfags!”
“Then go ahead!”
Don’t go ahead! Don’t mess with me!
“Teacher, that’s enough messing around!”
“A-Ahaha. I’m sorry, it appears I went too far with the joke, huh?”
She gives a forced laugh and lowers her head at me knocking the table.
Taking a sip of the coffee at her hand, she scrunches up her face at its bitterness and reaches out for the sugar.
“Nn, it’s bitter… Still, I was serious had I said I only had to as a teacher. Personally—right, Nishimura-kun.
“W-What is it?”
She shows an unpleasant grin before looking between Ako and me.
“Do you recall your resistance towards me earlier? You know, the part where you puffed out your chest and shouted out that you love her?”
“Waaah, stop it, please stop it! What are you saying all of a sudden?!”
I-I don’t want to hear it! I frantically cover my ears, but that’s hardly enough to block out their voices.
What’s with you, why would you drag out that memory from a few minutes ago that I’ve decided to file away as the second bit of my dark past?!
“Rusian! I love you too!”
“Thanks, I love you in-game, too, damn it! And what about it?!”
“Now, now, no need to be all angry.”
She smiles as though amused at those words I flung out half in desperation from the continuing embarrassment.
“How should I put this? I doubt you would say that much for a mere in-game friend. The feelings behind those words were certainly intense, you know? So, though I wouldn’t know how you want to express it on the surface, I’m sure Nishimura-kun does think about Tamaki-san in his own way, don’t you think?”
Not true. I personally think it’s no use trying to insist that either.
I mean, with a cute girl in the same grade, who I get along well with, going on and on about how she loves me… there’s no way I can ignore that, it’s only natural!
“But Ako goes too fast. If she were to ask for us to slowly develop our relationship like normal people, I may think otherwise, but she just went on about us being husband and wife from the very beginning…”
“That’s why, look, how about we take it slow?”
Saitou-sensei pats both Ako and my shoulders with both hands with a bright smile on.
“Tamaki-san, you should take your time and understand too. Nishimura-kun is different from the ‘Rusian’ you know—but, still, that’s lovely in its own way. Nishimura-kun, Tamaki-san’s interest in you isn’t because you are ‘Rusian’ either. Take your time and find out, little by little. You are still young, so there’s plenty of time. I’ll watch over both of you over that time at least.”
“In the game and in the real world, too. If your love grows in both, it would be simply amazing… wouldn’t you think so too, nya?”
The charm Saitou-sensei exhibited, smiling with those teasing words resemblant of whenever I speak with Nekohime-san in LA, appeared lovely, almost enough for me to believe in those words.
This person may be a surprisingly good teacher, I even thought.
“Aah, it comes as a breath of relief, to hear you say so, teacher.”
It was then.
That elegant speech came from the seats behind her.
She spins about. Long, black hair appears in her sight.
“Goshouin Kyou”; at times “Student President”; otherwise “Club President”; or mainly “Master”.
A familiar girl with her familiar appearance.
“Huh, isn’t that you, Master? When did you get here?”
“Almost the very beginning. I watched the entire clamor. My, those were certainly some good fighting words you shouted out, Rusian.”
“Aren’t they! I wanted to record them down for all eternity!”
Ako immediately agrees with Master who spewed out that ludicrous line.
“Don’t be stupid! Rather, forget it already!”
“What are you saying, Rusian? Aren’t you desperately trying to remember the sensation of hugging onto Ako yourself?”
“Like hell I aaamm!”
It isn’t good, she saw us during the worst part! She’s definitely going to poke fun at this forever! Definitely!
While I agonized with a “waaah”, Saitou-sensei observes Master’s expression with a somewhat blue face.
“H-Hello, Goshouin-san? Whatever could you be doing in a place like this?”
“It would take quite some time to tell the whole story. Hence, to state my business here in a single, simple word—that would be to invite.”
Master gives an affirmative nod and walks closer to her side.
“As you have spoken, I, too, am thinking of giving this couple time. I desire for them to think it through slowly. The Modern Communications-Electronics Recreation Club was created for that purpose.”
She turns around towards us with an astonished look.
Erm, I’d be troubled even if you’re to look at me like that. I did say I was in the netoge club, didn’t I?
Saitou-sensei’s effectively fleeing now, but Master drives her farther.
“But what a pickle we are in. We are on the verge of dissolution due to our lack of an advisor.”
“T-That sounds tough. But how unfortunate, I already handle the Literary Club, so I apologize, but please look for another—”
Drawing closer to her ear as she tried to decline, the president of the Modern Communications-Electronics Recreation Club put on a smile no decent person would wear as she whispers into it.
“—How about reconsidering and accepting it, nya?”
Saitou-sensei’s frame shudders and turns rigid.
Not letting up on that opening, Master continues her verbal assault.
“A Japanese language teacher who goes by the name, ‘Nekohime’, in online games, adopts a pandering speech by ending her sentences with ‘nya ♪’, and rejects the rare confession to her by insisting she’s actually male—I, too, would prefer to pretend to be ignorant of that all.
“Wha- A-Are you threatening me?!”
Taking on her shrill words, Master gently caresses her back.
“How could I possibly think of such a thing? This is mutual aid. We are in a troubling situation. And you, teacher, would prefer to not be in one. Do you not think we would get along just fine?”
That’s unfair! That’s a really unfair trade! Heck, you’re totally threatening her by implying that you’ll be troubled if she shakes her head!
“I-If I don’t admit it, no one will…”
Master replies with a single line to her moans.
“I have a recording of the incident in front of the station.”
Saitou-sensei surrenders with a cry of despair.
“That’s horrible, it’s too much…”
“There’s no helping it, though? In the end, we didn’t settle anything and we can’t let the club end like this either, can we?”
I turn my sight towards the source of that voice and see Schw’s face peeking from behind Master.
“Huh, Schw. You’re here too?”
“Don’t call me Schw. She’ll find out I’m a gamer, won’t she?”
That’s been exposed since ages ago—guess I’ll keep that to myself, she’ll be hurt if I say it.
“Don’t mind it, I mean, she’s one too. Besides, we’re persuading her to be our advisor right now, anyway.”
Schw says doubtfully, looking at Master smiling and Saitou-sensei turning pale.
With regards to that, I will prefer to maintain a “no comment” stance as well.
“Now we get to all play games together again!”
Ako simply cheers regardless of our respective thoughts. Aah, so our teacher’s sacrifice lies behind that innocent smile?
And after breaking in the end, she speaks to Master.
“But I have a single condition.”
“Let us hear it.”
“That would be for—”
“—Very well, naturally, we would not mind.”
Master shows a satisfied smile and accepts her condition.
And the Modern Communications-Electronics Recreation Club’s continued existence was extended for the time being.
Localization / Translation Notes
“Nekohime Hunter Frontier”
From “Monster Hunter Frontier Online”. (more info)
Written as 「鯖」 (saba) which means “mackerel”.
In Japanese, server (saabaa) and mackerel (saba) are homophones.
And the latter is easier to type, so… (more info)
A (fictional) ballistic missile.
Can be interpreted as “feelings of regret” (likely in reference to usual statements issued by the Japanese government). (more info)
“It’s time for us to leave all login games in the dust!”
「すべてのRPGを過去にする」 originates from the catch copy for Phantasy Star Universe.
It ended up “leaving all RPGs in the dust”, though not in a positive sense, with its bad reception. (more info)
“Ichiro Onrhein, Castle Onrhein, and from the Western side, Didooon Bon Onrhein“
Refers to related memes from Phantasy Star Universe, Master of Epic, and Monster Hunter Frontier respectively.
Connectivity issues after PSU’s release displayed an error code, “No.51”, which coincided with the uniform number of the major leaguer, Ichiro Suzuki.
MoE’s release resulted in login issues due to server load, with the login screen featuring a castle atop a lake.
This prompted memes about being able to log in only after crushing the castle.
MHF’s release resulted in server load as well, with the login sound effect essentially going didooon before Windows pops up an error prompt announcing the login failure and causing the bon.
(more info (Ichiro), more info (Castle), more info (Didooon Bon))
A fictional publisher from Sakigake!! Otokojuku. (more info)
“Simple 1200 game: ‘THE Login‘”
A series of numbered budget-priced console games. (more info)
“Stop attacking my reason directly! It’s never happening! My life points dropped to zero a long time ago!”
A scene from Yu-Gi-Oh! where Yugi uses a combo that allows him to attack multiple times in a turn, ending in him overkilling his opponent (several times) which became a meme with many parody videos. (more info)
“A gamer superstition. The Desire Sensor detects what rare item, or event you are farming for, and prevents the game from giving it to you.” -Urban Dictionary (more info)
The following line originates from a FFXI player named “Buront”.
“not even I can hold back my anger from reaching rapture” (more info)
“Rusian, move aside! Or I can’t kill her!”
A line from an infamous Ragnarok Online incident.
The players involved are tentatively named “374” (from the post number in the thread the story was posted in), “S Prefecture Tsukimiya” (referred henceforth as SPT; lives in that particular area and speculated to own that character named after Tsukimiya Ayu), and “Ako” (from “acolyte”, a class in RO).
SPT, a girl in middle school who’s not quite right in the head, believes herself to be 374’s little sister and that they were so since their past lives. She also believes they are fated to be separated due to a curse from a witch (Ako) long ago. After a series of events involving stalking (SPT finding 374’s phone number and apartment location), illegal trespassing (SPT breaking down 374’s door with a baton-like object), the police (arresting SPT with a patrol car), and her other generally delusional actions, it culminated in the following scene involving all three of them (translated from the linked page):
As they approached a low traffic residential area while chatting, Ako groans as she fell. Thinking she was dead drunk, 374 frantically turned towards Ako, but the one there was SPT with a baton hanging from her right hand. “Are you okay, onii-chan?”, she asked, but with 374 who was momentarily stunned ignoring her, she started saying lines like, “Onii-chan, isn’t that the witch? I mean, you were calling out the witch’s name.” 374 ignored these as well and confirmed “Can you move?” with Ako who was still down and holding onto her left arm. Upon seeing that, SPT went, “I’ll kill her this instant.” before swinging the baton at 374. And when 374 shielded with the bag he held,
“ONII-CHAN, MOVE ASIDE! OR I CAN’T KILL HER!”, SPT screamed. 374 trembled with fear and freezes from her menacing look, but Ako abruptly got up and slammed a lariat into SPT. Receiving a direct hit from that right arm in her neck, SPT (an underdeveloped girl in middle school) was knocked out with that one hit. Since Ako held onto her arm once more as she fell, 374 subdued SPT alone after calling in the police. SPT shouted, “You’ll be killed by the witch! Help me, onii-chan!” until the very end.
(more info, more info)
- Translation – Tap