Adolescent Adam

Volume 1, Chapter 4 - The Trick to the Crane Game is to Pull it in Close


Volume 1, Chapter 4 – The Trick to the Crane Game is to Pull it in Close

The next day arrived.

The utterly normal day was the exact opposite of the day before when Mutsuki had been prepared to die more than once, had nearly cried, had worn out his hips, and had climbed the staircase to adulthood.

His classmates were the same as before. Sakae and Saya were as energetic as ever and Ibekusa Machina arrived at the last second as always. Mutsuki tried to greet her again but once again failed to say anything.

There was only one difference.

“Jiyuuni Ange. Nice to meet you.”

A small panic erupted after the morning homeroom.

The transfer student had given the most perfunctory greeting before moving to her assigned seat. That seat was the rearmost one by the window, putting her diagonally back from Mutsuki. He doubted she was doing it intentionally, but she was resting her had on her hand and staring disinterestedly out the window just like Machina in front of her.

She immediately put on a lopsided frown and showed no hint of sociability. Mutsuki was worried she would not be able to get along with the others, but Ange simply turned her back on their classmates’ curious looks.

She seemed to have a natural preference for purity, so she had a poor opinion of the Serpent’s Eye that could force women into a state of arousal. However, her dislike did not seem isolated to Mutsuki, so her claim of not liking humans may have been true.

But…

“Ohhhhhhhh! You’re so cute! I love you! Please marry me!”

“Wa ha! Your red hair is so pretty? Is it natural? And your eyes are blue… Are you only half-Japanese?”

“We don’t usually get transfer students at this time of year. Where was your old school?”

The fact that she was a beautiful young girl proved surprisingly powerful. As soon as homeroom ended, a tsunami of classmates rushed toward her.

“Hey, make sure you’re ready for first period.”

Their homeroom teacher, Katsue-sensei, rang vainly through the classroom, but no one was listening.

Ange must not have expected this either.

“Well… It’s natural and my eyes are normal. My old school was somewhere far away.”

Despite her composed answers, she looked shocked.

Mutsuki breathed a sigh of relief as he watched on from a step away.

They were pretending to be strangers because of the trouble it would cause if their classmates found out they were living together, but she had of course transferred to the school to be his bodyguard. Since she had come for him, he wanted her to get along with the others.

“Jiyuuni-san… I can call you, Ange-chan, right? I’m Kurikara. Kurikara Saya.”

The class’s female eternal optimist pushed through the crowd of people.

“You can call me Saya. Nice to meet-…”

“Outta the way, jelly-face. If someone like you shows up in front of the nervous transfer student, she’ll think you’re gonna eat her. Leave this to THE Tomono Sakae, the most reassuring man there is.”

“Jelly-face!? How dare you call a girl-… dah wah wah! Don’t push!”

The male eternal optimist joined the fray. Saya and Sakae kept pushing each other out of the way and almost climbing onto the desk to get in front. Ange pulled back with a troubled look each time they got closer.

The two of them finally moved in toward her together.

“Nice to meet you, Jiyuuni-san. I’m the class rep, Tomono Sakae. You can remember me as the man who will one day stand at the center of the world.”

“Hah. The center of the world? The center of this class is the most you can manage.”

“What’d you say!?”

“You heard me! You wanna fight!?”

They really did start fighting.

The classroom’s excitement was growing at the arrival of this beautiful transfer student, so no one tried to stop them and some even seemed to egg them on.

Unable to keep up, Ange gave Mutsuki a look that asked “what’s their deal?”

The boy could only smile warmly back at her. One could only grow accustomed to those two’s energy.

Their classmates continued to cheer and their questions never seemed to end. Even first period was only a brief respite before the next break. And the next. And the lunch break. And afterschool.

The sullen angel-winged transfer student had been confused at first, but she seemed to gradually grow accustomed to the noise.

By the time they left, she was fitting into the class well enough.

Based on her attitude at school and what Micha had said, Ange was apparently not very familiar with human society.

Or with the human world as a whole.

“Wowwwwww!”

Mutsuki had no idea how an angel normally lived her life, but…

“This place is so big!”

She had apparently never seen a shopping mall before.

“Try to be a little quieter. You’re embarrassing me.”

“Sorry.”

“I know how you feel, though, so let’s enjoy ourselves on this shopping trip?”

Her usual risqué outfit was gathering a fair bit of attention, but Micha started walking without shame. Ange followed with her blue eyes sparkling at all the stores lining the walls. Mutsuki walked along behind the both of them.

This was SeeDWalK, the biggest shopping mall near their town, which had pretty much anything one might want to buy. It was sudden, but they were already buying supplies for Mutsuki.

“I’ll pay for it all, so choose whatever you want. Ange, if you see anything you want, feel free to buy it. I’ll write it all off as a business expense.”

Micha showed off a black credit card and grinned proudly. Mutsuki did not know how business expenses worked for angels, but he had a feeling this woman was abusing the system more than anyone else.

“Wow, wow! What’s that!? There’s a train running through the building!”

The mall was as large as a small theme park and Ange was impressed by just about everything. She was interested in every store, every facility, and even the bathrooms and benches. She was currently getting worked up over a bus to carry children around the building.

He had first met her just about twenty-four hours before, but this was his first time seeing anything other than an angry or sullen look on her face. It was a refreshing experience.

They started by buying things they would not have to lug around with them afterwards. First, they headed to the furniture store on the first floor of the shopping mall’s western wing.

“Wowwww.”

The girl voiced her amazement yet again when she saw the beds, tables, sofas, etc. filling a space the size of a soccer court.

“Is there any phrase more wonderful than ‘business expense’? Maybe I should get a new everything while we’re at it?”

Micha turned her sparkling eyes toward a fashionable white wood dining table with a lace tablecloth, an elegant wooden armchair with no nails or bolts, a tall rack with a mirror covering the entire thing, and other fashionable pieces of furniture. When she spotted a recliner with a built-in cooler for beer, she grabbed the purchase form without even checking the price tag.

And yet their apartment already had a TV, couch, and beds, so Mutsuki had thought it already had the bare necessities.

“ ‘Please try me out.’ Hey… Hey, Mutsuki!”

“Yeah?”

Ange gestured him over. She seemed interested in the bed section and she pointed at a plate that said “Please try me out.”

“It’s saying you can lie on it to see how it feels. Keep your shoes on the plastic at the bottom, though. Also…”

Before he could tell her to do it quietly, the girl dove noisily onto the bed mat. The creaking of the springs seemed to fill the entire floor.

“Wow, wow! This is amazing! It’s so bouncy and soft.”

The comfort that 99800 yen bought was apparently several steps above the cheap bed that had come with the apartment. She kept bouncing up and down on it like a trampoline.

An employee naturally started giving them a disapproving look.

(Why am I the one getting glared at?)

The employee seemed to think she was his little sister, so he averted his gaze.

But…

“~~??? That settles it. I’m buying this. I’m definitely buying this.”

Ange stretched happily.

Since she said she was going to buy it, he decided to let her do whatever she wanted.

“~~?”

“…”

She lay on her stomach and kicked her feet.

Mutsuki’s expression relaxed when he saw her playing around like a puppy wagging its tail in a nice sunny spot.

The two of them had not exactly been getting along, but he could not think of her as a bad person when he saw this innocent side of her.

He wanted them to get along.

They were roommates, she was helping him as his bodyguard, and they were about the same age.

He was pretty sure they would be able to get along when the right opportunity came along, but…

“I see, I see.”

He felt a soft sensation on the back of his neck. Next, a sweet breath tickled his ear.

“How about we buy a bigger bed? The ones we have are too small, so we almost fell off when doing it doggy style. One with a waterproof mat would be best.”

“H-have you bought a recliner yet?”

He quickly moved away from the large round objects resting on his shoulders.

Amused by his reaction, Micha giggled.

“I did buy one, but I’ve hit a snag. I used a trick to get the lease for our apartment, so we’re technically not registered as its residents. I need to stop by the government office and get things legal.”

“Oh… I see.”

He was bothered by the parts about “using a trick” and “getting things legal”, but she was an angel. He decided to turn a blind eye.

“Sorry. I’ll be gone for a bit, so you kill some time with Ange.”

“Oh… Wait, what!?”

“If you see anything you want, go ahead and buy it all.”

She tossed the black card his way and turned around.

The boy naturally panicked when he was handed an object that could produce as much money as he wanted.

“W-wait, Micha-san!”

She was already gone.

All that remained was the weak-willed boy and the credit card he was afraid to use.

“What did Micha want?”

Having seen her guardian walk up and leave, Ange only tilted her head and got down from the bed.

They decided to look at the furniture later, so Mutsuki showed Ange around the mall since she wanted to see more large stores.

“What a strange place. It’s like an entire shopping district was put inside a single building.”

“That’s what a mall is.”

Fortunately, Mutsuki visited the place about once a month with his sisters, so he knew his way around pretty well. Showing Ange around was a simple task.

“Ha ha?”

Ange seemed to like the spiral escalator that made a half circuit of the central space as it brought them to the second floor. A huge smile covered her face as she saw all the stores spinning around her.

The boy laughed quietly when he saw her unable to maintain her usual air of composure.

(She really is a good girl.)

Due to some compatibility issues and bad timing, he had not had a good impression of her. But when he saw her here, she no longer seemed like someone he could never get along with. As long as she could claim it was her duty, she would do a proper job of protecting him 24/7.

“Hm? What is it?”

She seemed to have noticed him looking at her, so she tilted her head while leaning over the railing.

He felt like he had been watching her all day and she seemed to have a habit of putting on that lopsided frown even when she was not particularly angry. That impression was helped by the natural angle of her narrow eyebrows and the sharp look to her eyes.

“I’m just glad you seem to be enjoying this,” he said with a smile. “I thought you might not be able to enjoy yourself with me.”

“Uuh… I-I’m not enjoying the human world in the slightest. It’s just, um, not boring since it’s so different.”

This time, she really did look to the side with a sullen look. The problem seemed to be her prejudice against the human world, her short temper, and her refusal to be honest.

The escalator reached the second floor, so they continued on up to the third. The central space seemed to rotate around them on this half circuit.

Mutsuki spoke to the girl who leaned on the railing with her cute lips bent in a lopsided frown.

“Hey, Ange. Look at that.”

“What is it? …Wow.”

He pointed down toward the central space.

When she peered down, her angry expression immediately lit up.

On the first floor, the central rest area’s decorative plants had appeared to be arranged in an irregular pattern, but from this high up, they formed a picture. With summer approaching, the many yellow seedlings painted a beautiful sunflower.

“Ah ha ha? You humans think up the weirdest things.”

She seemed to be enjoying herself again. She completely forgot to frown as the escalator rotated around and changed their angle of view, somewhat changing the sunflower’s colors and shape.

She really was a pure girl. Mutsuki stepped up alongside her with a smile. She was not going to complain if that was all he did.

Although maybe pure was not quite the right word.

“There are so many clothing stores, too. …Ah! Wait a second, Mutsuki! Why are those people standing around in their underwear!? They’re in public!”

Ignorant may have been the better word choice.

“Those are mannequins.”

“Manne…what? Oh, they’re dolls. …Ah! Wait a second, Mutsuki! They’re selling human bones over there!”

“Those are piggy banks shaped like skulls.”

“Oh, so they’re fake. …Ah! Wait a second, Mutsuki! That man is wearing a girl’s sailor uniform!”

“That’s…a personal preference…I guess.”

By the time they reached the third floor, the atmosphere had lightened up quite a bit.

The first floor’s stores were primarily for food, cafés, and general living items. The second floor’s stores were all related to fashion. They planned to visit those places once Micha got back, so they made their way to the third floor. That floor was for entertainment shops.

The stores were all entertainment related: books, music, snacks, movies, etc. Mutsuki had chosen it because it had plenty of stores that sold things Ange would probably like to see, such as kid’s accessories and amusement products.

But as soon as they arrived, Ange’s interest latched onto one spot in particular.

“What’s this place? It sure is loud. Game Master City?”

“It’s an arcade. They have games there.”

“The whole place is for games?”

“Yup.”

“You’re kidding.”

Her mouth hung open as she looked around.

Her reaction was hardly surprising. Game Master City took up a full third of SeeDWalK’s third floor and it was one of the town’s leading amusement parks. More than just video games, it had ping pong, pool tables, a bowling alley, karaoke, and a manga café. It even had an indoor tennis and futsal court for rent until seven at night.

Sakae would often drag Mutsuki to arcades, including this one, so it was actually the perfect spot for him to show Ange around. He followed her as she rushed inside.

“Hmmm… You humans really are geniuses when it comes to the most pointless things.”

Despite the backhanded compliment, she smiled happily and ran around the arcade.

“What’s this?”

“The crane game. After putting in some money, you move this around to grab the prize.”

“What’s this?”

“Horse racing. You buy a token from those machines and bet on this. All the games in this area need tokens to-…”

“What’s this?”

“At least hear me out. This is a photo booth. It takes your picture.”

As she dragged him around, Mutsuki checked on the contents of his wallet. He was not about to use the card for games. His investigation turned up a total of about 7000 yen. That seemed like it would be enough.

“I want to try them! Tell me how to do it!”

In an unsurprising turn of events, she called him over as soon as she pulled out a 1000 yen bill. He smiled bitterly and broke it down into 100 yen coins.

“Which one do you want to try?”

“This one. Everyone’s smiling, so it looks fun.”

She pointed at a nearby booth and tugged on his sleeve.

“Um, but…”

He was a little troubled, but before he could say anything more, he was dragged into the booth covered in pictures of “everyone smiling”.

He was unsure what to say since this technically was not a game, but he could not refuse Ange when she looked so excited. He inserted a coin and decided showing her would be faster than explaining.

“Well? Well? What do I do?”

“Um, first, you choose a frame. Which size do you want? There are five options.”

“Size? I don’t know what you’re talking about, but the bigger the better.”

“Then I’ll go with the biggest one. I’ll set the brightness to automatic and add no decorations. …Okay, here it goes.”

He doubted she knew what was going to happen, but she looked charming enough with the excited sparkle in her eyes.

He was embarrassed standing next to her, so he left a space between them and smiled awkwardly.

“C’mon, what kind of game is it?”

She was still grabbing onto the elbow of his sleeve and she pulled him in close.

At that exact moment, the booth took the picture.

“??”

She turned around in surprise at the sudden light, but her long and skinny eyebrows twisted when the booth did nothing more.

Mutsuki was somewhat troubled as he checked the photo on the screen, but he guessed she would be mad if he retook it. He touched the “confirm” button on the panel and it took around a dozen seconds to print the photos.

“What is this?”

“Like I was saying, this machine isn’t actually a game.”

Anger visibly grew on Ange’s face when he handed her the printed photos.

He began to wonder if he should have retaken it after all. Depending on how one looked at it, it almost looked like they were smiling together with their arms linked.

“What is this!? So it just takes pictures? That isn’t a game at all!”

“Well, you’re actually supposed to draw on the pictures you take.”

“Where’s the fun in that!? How stupid!”

He had started this because he had thought she would find something “stupid” to be fun, but she had gotten mad instead. She seemed to especially dislike how friendly they looked in the photo. She blushed and stomped out of the booth.

Mutsuki scratched at his head and followed her.

But he did secretly pocket his first one-on-one photo with a girl since it had come out so well.

Ange seemed more cautious after that first failure, so she avoided any kind of machine with a screen as she started searching for something that looked fun.

Even in such a large place, there was only so much they could do, so they naturally ended up at a certain device.

“You called this the crane game?”

“Yes. You grab the prizes with that crane.”

“Hmm.”

Still looking sullen, she stopped in front of the prize area that contained over one hundred machines.

The prizes were exposed behind a single layer of glass and one could snag one for as little as one hundred yen. The genre had an attraction for people like her who knew little of normal games and it drew her attention quite well.

“Want to try it? Although it’s not easy, so I doubt you can get anything.”

There were plenty of varieties: orthodox cranes, shovels that scooped up treats and glass beads, extending arms, baskets the prizes were shaken into, and hooks to snag the prizes. For a beginner like her, he guessed the roulette that relied entirely on luck would give her the best odds of success, but…

“I can teach you the trick to it if you want. So which one do you-… Uh, oh.”

“…”

When he noticed what her slanted blue eyes were focused on, he grimaced.

She apparently wanted a Lazy Bear cushion, based on a mascot character that had gotten popular recently. It was a large prize and there was only one per machine. And of course, each play in those machines cost two hundred yen.

“I can get this too?”

“Um… W-well, yes. If you can grab it. But…”

“I’ll do it. Just tell me how.”

Her unconcerned tone of voice would not take no for an answer, so Mutsuki had no choice but to operate the machine in question and teach her how it was done. It was an orthodox crane type where Button 1 moved it to the side and Button 2 moved it forward. He told her that she had to stop the crane above the prize to grab it, that targeting the center of gravity was best, and to go for a spot that was not too thick but not too thin since it responded to pressure.

But…

“Okay. I’ll give it a shot.”

The machine cost two hundred yen a try, but he inserted a five hundred yen coin which was worth three games.

Ange stared at the prize beyond the glass with as serious a look as when she wielded her great sword. Mutsuki had paid for three game’s worth to make sure she was convinced, but…

“…Here.”

Whirrrr.

“…There!”

Whirrr.

Whir-whir-whir-whir-whir.

“…”

“…”

“…? Is that all?”

“Yeah, you failed your first try.”

The claws had grabbed the prize at a good spot, but they had risen back up without lifting the target in the slightest. Then they moved back above the prize hole.

“What the hell!? What a piece of junk!”

“I told it wasn’t easy, didn’t I?”

He smiled bitterly at the angry girl because he had expected this to happen.

Prize games generally had two types of machines: the lure machines that drew in customers with their magnificent prizes and the opened machines that drew in customers with the ability to actually win something.

Mutsuki had looked into it because his sister Mutsumi was really into the Lazy Bear series, but the cushion was a new product. That meant it would be in one of the lure machines. The machine was only meant to show off the prizes, so it would be made so no one could actually win them.

There would be days when it was set up to be possible, but a weekday like today was hopeless. Based on Ange’s game, the claws were too loose. Even one hundred games would not be enough to get it.

“Grrr…”

Oblivious to that world of adults, Ange furrowed her brow and glared at the machine as she reached for the buttons again.

Three games would never satisfy her, so Mutsuki inserted another five hundred yen, increasing the “remaining plays” light to “4”. In the meantime, he started looking for another solution.

Fortunately, he quickly found what he was looking for. It was the machine he had worked himself to death conquering after Mutsumi had begged him.

“…”

“…”

“Ahhhhhhh! There’s no way you can get it! Is this thing rigged!?”

After using up all of her plays and only moving the cushion a little over two millimeters, the girl shouted loud enough for the employees to here.

“As I said, it’s really hard.”

Mutsuki returned to her with a smile.

“This isn’t just hard. It’s made so you can’t win!”

“And you lost from the moment you didn’t realize that.”

“…”

“Here.”

He handed his prize to the girl whose adorable face was twisted in anger.

Ange was shocked to have something a few sizes larger than the cushion pressed against her chest. Her eyes opened wide when she realized what it was. The shape was a little different, but it was the same character as what she had wanted.

It was a Lazy Bear body pillow. He had worked his ass off winning one two weeks before for Mutsumi…and then had won another for his jealous older sister. And then a third time for Chiaki when she sulked.

He was so accustomed to it that he had won this one after only two tries. It was not a difficult thing on one of the opened machines.

“You can have it. It’s not a cushion, but it’s pretty much the same, right?”

“~~ I-I don’t need…”

“You don’t want it?”

“…”

She never said she did, but she refused to let go of it.

She quickly grew silent, so he headed to the service counter to get a bag.

When he turned his back, he barely picked up a voice saying “…nk you”, but he pretended not to hear it and continued to the counter.

However, he could not keep up his gentlemanly act, so he peeked back toward her after turning

the corner and asking an employee for a prize bag.

Ange remained entirely motionless for a while, but…

“~~”

He saw her squeeze the pillow just once.

Afterwards, they enjoyed themselves in the normal game section.

With the fighting, puzzle, mahjong, and quiz games that were only buttons and a screen, she could only tell “something is happening on the screen” since she did not know the rules. On the other hand, she quite liked the games that required moving one’s body.

Take the shooting games for example:

“Wah! Wah! This is really gory! Take this and this and this and this!”

“Wow, perfect accuracy. That’s amazing for your first time.”

“Why you-! Take this! …H-huh? What the hell!? Why did I die when I was never hit once!?”

“As I’ve already explained several times, your life goes down whenever you shoot a hostage. You can’t just shoot everything that moves.”

“Grr…”

Or the rhythm games:

“Ah ha ha ha ha. This is so easy.”

“No misses is pretty amazing for a first attempt.”

“Heh heh. Well, if I actually try a little, you should expect this.”

“…”

“But there’s someone with three times my score in the high scores.”

“That’s because you’re hitting the buttons without paying attention to the rhythm. You won’t get a good score that way.”

Or the punching machine:

“What does a punch strength of ‘E’ mean?”

“That’s an error. Try hitting it again.”

“If you say so… Deryah!”

“…”

“What? Now it’s not even showing the ‘E’.”

“The pole is stuck inside the machine. I’ll go call an employee.”

Perhaps due to her personality, she found something to complain about with everything.

“C’mon, Mutsuki! Let’s play this one next!”

“S-sure.”

Still, she seemed to be enjoying herself as she kept tugging on his sleeve.

“Is this like what Micha rides?”

Her interest turned toward the line of motorcycle machines.

It was a racing game that allowed up to eight people to play at once.

She hopped onto one, placed her bag on her thigh, and grabbed the grips. They were coordinated enough by now that Mutsuki inserted two coins, climbed onto the next machine over, and explained how to accelerate, turn, and brake.

“Let’s start with a simple course. Choose the automatic transmission and…that red bike is easy to use.”

They began the game on the practice course, a beginner’s motorcycle, and the easier transmission mode.

“The automatic transmission means you only have to twist the grip to pick up speed. But if you go too fast, you can’t make the turns, so watch out. Good, good. Start by trying not to crash or fall over.”

“Oh, oops… Like this!?”

“Yes. Very good.”

He slowly drove alongside her on the screen as well as on the machine.

“Hmm. Motorcycles are fun. Maybe I should borrow Micha’s sometime.”

“You need a license for a real one. …Wait? Does Micha-san have a license?”

“Oh, that was close! I’m not going to fall over anymore.”

“Good, good. Make sure to lean to the side when you want to-…oh.”

His heart skipped a beat when she tilted her machine for the curve and her skirt flipped up, revealing the spats-covered thighs below.

Due to her personality, she had gone too fast and crashed a lot at first, but she was noticeably improving with each lap. That may have been thanks to her superhuman athletics. Before long, she was no longer crashing and actually making it around the curves, even if just barely. At the end of the tenth of twelve laps, she was about as good as your average player.

“Ha ha? Did you see that, Mutsuki? I didn’t crash again.”

“That’s amazing. You aren’t spinning out even at your top speed. You’re a proper player now.”

“Heh heh. Well, a human game isn’t about to give me much trouble. …Whoops.”

She almost crashed while giving him a proud look, but she continued reducing her lap time.

Mutsuki was not very athletic and it had taken him a long time to get used to this sort of game, so he was jealous.

“Heh heh heh heh.”

A smile of victory filled Ange’s slanted eyes.

(She’s so cute.)

That was his honest thought.

She naturally left a powerful impression, but the harsh side vanished when she smiled, leaving only the cute side. Only the cheerfulness of a sunflower and the purity of the blue sky remained.

Once he noticed, he could not keep his eyes off of her.

The two of them crossed the finish line at the same time.

“Hm? It’s already over?”

“It was a twelve lap race. Well? Did you have fun?”

“Yeah! …No, I mean, a bit I guess.”

Her eyebrows rose in defiance, but she still looked cute.

As the boy climbed down from the machine, his cheeks were loose with self-deprecation.

“Wait,” said the girl. “You’re supposed to use this to race, right? In other words, to see who’s the fastest?”

She put her hands on her hips and pulled her chin back to give him a challenging upwards look.

“Eh? …You want to race?”

Mutsuki checked, but no one else was around. It looked like they could play twice in a row.

“I’ll have a pretty big advantage since I’ve played this game a lot.”

“I’ll take that handicap.”

“Hm… Fine then.”

He climbed back on and inserted two more coins.

“Don’t you dare go easy on me. And don’t make any excuses if I beat you.”

“Fine, fine.”

Mutsuki realized he was mostly just enjoying playing with her instead of trying to get along with her. He selected the same course, the same bike, and the same transmission.

“No going easy on you, you said?”

“Eh? Ange, don’t kick it! They’ll get mad at us.”

Mutsuki left the motorcycle section while worried about the looks the employees were giving them. Ange stomped off after him.

“Um…”

“Shut up.”

“I-I play that game a lot. You did really well for your first day.”

“Shut up.”

“I’ll admit I went a little overboard when I lapped you the fourth time, but that was because you told me not to go easy on you.”

“Shut uuuuuuup! You’re making fun of me, aren’t you!?”

She shouted angrily back and Mutsuki was too weak-willed to say anything more.

Ange may have been good for a beginner, but Mutsuki had been able to drive alongside her and give her instructions. The difference was like night and day. His mistake had been truly not going on easy on her without giving any thought to her pride.

“I’m never riding a motorcycle again! Not even Micha’s!”

She seemed thoroughly pissed after being so badly beaten.

“Sigh.”

The boy sighed at how poorly this was going.

At the same time, he was in a fairly decent mood.

He was certain the two of them had grown a lot closer over the last while.

Ange was still holding onto her prize bag as she moved on ahead. Mutsuki could not help but laugh quietly before jogging back to her side.

“Hmph.”

Even the way she exaggeratedly turned away seemed cute.

After leaving Game Master City, they returned to the mall corridor. Evening was shifting to night and the number of customers had grown a bit.

“Hey, Ange.”

“What?”

“That Lazy Bear cushion will be moved to the opened machines in a while, so how about we come back for a rematch then?”

“…”

She slowed her quick pace and faced him. Her reddish-brown hair fluttered behind her as she did.

“This time you can win the prize.”

“~~”

Merely imaging herself defeating that loathsome crane on her own was enough for her normal lopsided frown to melt and curve upwards.

But it quickly stiffened back up.

“I-I don’t really want that, so it doesn’t matter!”

She stomped off again.

Mutsuki laughed again. That was when Ange noticed the boy had been smiling all this time. She gave a sullen frown.

“And what do you mean ‘in a while’? It’s not like we’re going to be together for that long.”

Her tone was ice cold.

“Really?”

“Didn’t Micha tell you? The angel headquarters down here on earth are searching for a countermeasure against the demons and FeTUS. If we can restrict the influence of those two groups, you won’t need a bodyguard. Then I’ll be freed from this annoying job.”

“Oh, yeah. I did hear that.”

If the other angels could defeat those moving machines and that black water, he would no longer have to live with those two angels. He could return to his family. Micha had explained that the night before.

But when he thought back, something about that bothered him.

“I see. So after that, I won’t be able to see you and Micha-san anymore.”

That felt sad even if he had only met them the day before, so the tone of his voice dropped.

The girl glanced over at him, but she groaned and wrinkled her brow awkwardly when she noticed his expression. But she quickly bristled with annoyance.

“That’s right! I’ll be leaving soon and then we’ll be strangers again!”

She pointed at his nose and raised her voice.

It felt less like she was actually angry and more like she was trying to break the gloomy atmosphere.

The boy was used to being yelled at, but it shocked him when she began shouting in public. Naturally, they drew a lot of attention.

“Just to be clear, every minute and every second I have to spend with you is an annoyance.”

“S-sure. …Um, Ange?”

“Besides, why do I even have to be your bodyguard? You’re pathetic and perverted, so I’d never want to have anything to do with you if it wasn’t for the Serpent’s Eye.”

“Sorry. …But could you keep it down?”

Not only was she yelling quite loudly in public, but she was calling him pathetic and perverted.

More and more people started looking their way, so he was of course embarrassed.

But he could stand embarrassment. He could bear with the half smiles in those strangers’ eyes.

“Like I told you before, I hate, hate, hate people with no delicacy and no shame!”

“Yeah, you told me that yesterday. Anyway-…”

“I just can’t stand this. Stop getting carried away and acting like we’re friends or something.”

“Can you please-…”

“Just because we live together is no excuse!”

“Ehhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!???”

This time, everyone on the third floor turned around.

But they looked past Ange and Mutsuki to look at the girl behind them.

With the worst case scenario in mind, Mutsuki turned around with stiff movements.

“Living together… No shame, pathetic, perverted…”

The worst case scenario was here.

And it was the worst possible person for that worst case scenario. Mutsuki started feeling dizzy, so he figured this was would be when someone would faint from shock.

“No delicacy…and pathetic…when being perverted…together.”

A familiar girl was quickly rearranging the keywords for her own convenience.

Her mouth was opened wide, the corners were twitching, and even her nostrils were opened wide as she smiled.

“Hear me out, Kurikara-san. You’ve got it all wrong. The truth is…”

“Spam restrictions off! Chainmail ready to go! Send to entire address book!”

“Stooooooooooooooooop!!”

Even though she was a girl, he seriously grabbed at her to steal her cellphone.

But the girl, Kurikara Saya, easily swayed out of the way and continued dodging his attacks as her thumb raced across the keys with lightning speed.

Ange could only watch in confusion because she was unfamiliar with the human world and did not know of the incredibly dangerous type of human known as the “gossiping girl”.

By the following day, the entire school knew they lived together.


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