Playing Cupids – Chapter 2

Playing Cupids

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10:06 P.M.

I just got out of the bath and here I am, facing my PC.

But something was bothering me.

Yes, it was that I couldn’t log in.

I have been staring at the little box where I was supposedly type in my username and my password.

But why am I not trying to log in? That’s because every time I log in, it displays the “Server Maintenance, please log in later.”

I have been waiting for two hours, why is the server still down?

This is quite annoying.

Why does the server suck right now? I asked some of the players from other servers if they were having trouble logging in but it looks like only Quel’thalas, the server I am in, was the only one having troubles.

I exited the platform and opened my browser to search for anything like videos or blogs since I was bored to death.

How sad.

Oh shut it.

You should look for other games to buy in case Ancient Ruins’ servers are down like these. Like the new one they released.

If only I had the money, but I don’t.

How about a free game online?

I doubt that I will like anything there.

What about that thing where you looked for Brandon and Giselle’s profiles?

You do know I’m not interested in those kinds of things?

What about using the chatting feature of that social media, or whatever that was, and chat with Clarissa.

Why?

Because you want to. And you’re bored so you need to do something until Ancient Ruins is back.

Okay fine.

And so, I made an account and looked for Clarissa’s profile.

Wow, look at those posts. It’s pretty much obvious that she is very active in here. The last post she had was seven minutes ago.

I went on and sent a mail to her. I don’t think it is considered as mail so I’ll just use the term message I guess.

“Hey, you still awake?”

I scrolled down to find older posts.

The oldest I could find so far was three days ago. Is this what they call addiction? I mean, she’s always posting and posting.

A bell-like sound notified me that she replied.

C: “Yup. Hey, I thought you didn’t have an account.”

R: “Just made one recently. Server is down so I have to wait for it.”

C: “Go to bed.”

R: “I could also direct that to you.”

C: “So, how did you know I was still awake?”

R: “I asked your 13 minute old post.”

C: “Stalker?”

R: “I wonder what is so fun with posting stuff online.”

C: “It’s where I vent out my feelings.”

R: “Oh. That’s why most of your posts are so emotional.”

C: “What do you mean?”

R: “I saw your post a couple of days ago.”

Here it is:

Those blue eyes

Sent me to heaven.

Or so I thought.

It was hell coated in blue.

C: “I write those in the context of other people’s emotions.”

R: “That’s weird. Ah, Quel’thalas is up. Gotta go.”

C: “Quel’thalas?”

R: “The server. See ya.”

C: “Okay.”

With the server up, I grinded some xp and gold for a while and went asleep before midnight. It is quite rare for me to sleep so early. I always sleep past midnight.

I woke up at around 4 in the morning for some reason.

I didn’t feel anything; no headache, no stomachache and no body pain.

I guess my body is used to only a few hours of sleep.

Going back to sleep after waking up is impossible, so I opened my computer and logged in on the social media thing.

I searched for Brandon’s closest friends and found one.

He was actually a manager of a convenience store. It seems that they are in need of a part-timer. And he was a part-timer too. Wait, why is he still a part-timer?

Probably because he’s not employed at any stable job.

No, I meant why doesn’t he have a decent job?

Who cares? But you can use this to your advantage.

Work for him whilst leeching information? But my time for Ancient Ruins will be… ruined!

You want money right?

I’ll send him a message that I will apply for that then.

You’re welcome.

No thanks.

After that, I surfed through the net for other info about Brandon’s past with Giselle. But it only lasted for about thirty minutes.

Then I went straight to bed again.

I entered the room on the right time and for some reason my body was feeling better for the first time!

What the hell do you mean?

Well, I always had this unavoidable fatigue that made my body heavy every morning.

What the hell.

But now, I’m as okay as a normal person!

You’re not supposed to boast about being normal. It’s normal to be normal.

Looking around the class, it looks like most of my classmates were here. To be honest I don’t even know their names so what the heck. Oh there’s class rep whatshername. Brenda. Right, Brenda!

But Clarissa is still not here. Why is she always late?

Oh shit, why do I have the condom my mom gave me last week?

I felt something round-shaped in my pants when I was reaching for my phone.

Whatever. I’ll drop it off at my place. It won’t be seen anyway.

A few seconds before the bell rang, the door slammed open and revealed a girl covered in sweat.

“SAFE!”

She then shouted. Oh it was Clarissa.

Come to think of it she was also late yesterday. What’s the deal with that?

Morning troubles?

I have them too. But I have one hell of a dragging mom so..

Well, she doesn’t.

She takes her time to calm down and walk towards her seat.

When she sat down, her eyes were tired and her hair was not fixed, her clothes are kind of rekt: basically she was a mess.

“Good morning, sunshine.”

I greeted her. I was expecting a greeting from her as well, but her face said no.

“Bad morning I guess?”

She nodded and let of a deep sigh as she lied her face down on her desk with her arms around her neck.

“I seriously need someone to constantly wake me up in the morning.”

Bingo. See, I told you.

“How do people wake up so early and not be a mess?”

“They have moms who would almost rip their souls out if they wouldn’t wake up so…”

Why did you say that?

Why not?

That’s one of the many things you shouldn’t tell anyone!

Why?

You look pitiful, dumbass.

“Condolences.”

She said with pity in her eyes. Damn it, you’re right. The hell I am.

It has been ten minutes now yet the teacher still hasn’t showed up. Wait who was supposed to be the teacher anyway? Who knows?

And it looks like Clarissa is now pretty much okay. She’s been going around the class, chatting with her friends and stuff. I guess that’s her coffee in the morning huh.

She finally sat down feeling refreshed.

“Hey, about Brandon and Giselle,”

“Hmm, what’s up?”

“I found a new lead.”

And just as I was about to explain everything, the teacher came in. Oh great, just great.

Everybody settled down and the teacher began to take attendance.

So, you’re planning on discussing your plans about that convenience store manager dude?

Obviously.

Hey, I thought you didn’t want to get involved with her.

I already got involved. And the only way out is to finish it quickly.

Man, just how stubborn are you?

I don’t know what you’re talking about.

Two hours later, I haven’t told her the slightest information I had. Every time I tried to reach her via paper mail, the old geezer of a teacher would stare at me for decades.

Now that I think about it gives me the creeps.

And I even managed to prioritize talking about how annoying the teacher was rather than the Brandon’s love life.

“That’s rich!”

She laughed really loud as we walk down the halls.

“That was kind of unfair; he never looked at you.”

We were walking towards the cafeteria and this time I’m not going to treat her. Oh man, I feel so alive. Why are your dreams so shallow? You will never understand the satisfaction of keeping material things.

We bought our stuff and headed to our usual spot under the treat. I had to carry some of her food because there were too much for one person to carry. Why is she not getting fat?

“So tell me about what you found out last night.”

“Brandon had close friends right? I found out one who was working in a convenience store nearby. I sent him a message and already wrote my application form in class just now. I’ll drop by later after school.”

Clarissa was now looking at me with anger all of a sudden. Wait what.

“Wanna come with me?”

Since when did I bother to ask people that kind of question?

Her expression changed and smiled. And then it changed again because she began eating. What was that phenomenon just now? I have a theory. I don’t have time for you.

A vibration came from my phone. I reached for it from my left pocket and looked at the notification to find that the store manager replied.

I began to read the message out loud for Clarissa to hear.

“Thank you! Please come to the store later after school. Prepare the application forms necessary and I will send the list of these a bit later. We are in need of another person working so if you know someone, do not hesitate to come with that person. Again, thank you!”

“So he says.”

Her eyes twinkled like a star after I read that message. Oh man, of course she wants to go.

“A little more money wouldn’t hurt. I also need to buy some cute und – no never mind.”

Her face began to turn red again. When I looked at her, she turned around in embarrassment. I could still see the red in her ears though…

“He’s going to send some forms later. So eat those and let’s go to the printing hub.”

She ate almost two times faster and finished 10 minutes before the start of the next class. Normally, she takes her time and waits until the very last second to hurry back.

Just as we arrived to the printing hub, the manager seemed to have managed to send us the forms we needed to fill out.

We printed it out and quickly returned to our class.

We filled out our forms in class while trying not to get caught by the teachers. Exchanging paper mail from time to time was pretty much normal as well. It was a waste of paper though.

Lunch break wasn’t all that much.

Same old proportion of food and the same old spot.

We went off-topic this time, thinking about the things that made people wonder and be entranced by.

“Shakespeare was a genius. It was as if he held his audience’s heart when making a story. Though in the end he breaks hearts.”

“So you’re into bittersweet romance?”

“Nah, I’m just captivated on how tragedies make people actually feel bad but still feels a bit of happiness. It has that certain feeling.”

“Kind of like stars I guess.”

“And why is that?”

I looked at her and noticed that she stopped eating. She put her food down and sighed.

“It’s like looking into the past. But you’re not certain if that radiance even has a present or a future.”

She made a lonely smile a few seconds later.

She’s saying some deep stuff now, isn’t she?

You could hear anything I could hear, see anything I could see and feel anything I could feel be it physical or emotional. You should know.

Hmm, then why do you have the responsibility of looking after her?

I don’t know. I don’t even understood what she meant, but I’ll try to. And if I can’t, I will at least be there for her.

You finally found friendship. I’m so happy that if I had eyes, tears would be flowing out.

Said you with a sarcastic voice. Asshole.

Meh.

What do you mean “meh”?

School was out and we went straight to the convenience store.

There wasn’t anything in particular wrong with the store. So why did two consecutive people quit? I have a bad feeling about this.

I asked the cashier that where the manager was and she asked us to make our way to the break room for the interview. We then waited inside the break room and for three minutes, the manager was still not there. The usual cashier that I would always meet wasn’t there huh. Maybe it wasn’t her shift today.

We were sitting in a well-lit room with an air conditioner, cupboard for coffee and mugs, a smoking area for smokers, and a nice firm wooden table in front of us.

“So, what are you going to do with the money later on?”

She asked me out of the blue.

“Probably a new game or some comics or a book. There’s a wide range for stuff I want to buy that I can only decide when I already have the money. What about you?”

Just as I asked her the question, she pulled the collar of my shirt and slammed me unto the table.

She started to either whack or punch or slap my face in attempt to confuse me as she shouts “Pervert” with a blushing face and mildly teary eyes.

Actually I don’t even care anymore. My head hurts so much that I just let her beat me up. Amidst that chaos, the manager suddenly came in with a smile.

Clarissa stopped killing me when the manager dropped his jaw. But he still continued his smile, but it was more awkward this.

“You guys are pretty close, aren’t you?”

“Physically yes, she’s caressing my soul and forcing me to go to heaven right now.”

Just as I retorted, I received another whack in the head.

We finally calmed down and fixed out chairs. And by “we”, I meant Clarissa. She was the only person who was like a raging gamer dude who doesn’t listen to people but blames everyone in his team when he dies. Typical cancerous idiot.

“May I look at the forms you have filled out?”

We handed our forms to the manager and he glanced at it for only a second each.

“You’re hired.”

He said with a big and welcoming smile.

Wait, he didn’t even look at the information.

He was probably desperate. Two employees suddenly quit right?

Should you be risking your ass for extra money?

Meh.

“Oh and one more thing Mr. Manager.”

Just as he was about to leave and make the our applications official, I asked him a little favor.

“Can we work on the same shifts please?”

“Sure.”

For someone who doesn’t have a stable job, he seems to always carry that smile. I’m now starting to wonder if he’s masking something.

Just as the door closes, Clarissa softly punches my shoulder from the right.

“If you want to beat me up that badly you can wait until you reach my place.”

“Why do you want us to work together?”

Her shyness was too cute for me to describe. Hold on, what the fuck. But in response to that, I just patted her head and smiled at her. I mean what should I do?

“You don’t have to be bashful, come on.”

“Hmp.”

She pouts as she tries to get rid of my hand resting on her head.

“Besides, it’s easier to get information if we are together.”

“How is that exactly?”

“We can cover more ground.”

“What ground?”

Hearing this kind of question, I threw a double face-palm.

“It means, we can gather more information since we have two different points of views. Meaning we have different thinking and how we understand people so when we come to the point where we share our stuff, we can analyze it better. Oh hey, I’m applying the research and experiment processes.”

Yet again she’s surprised. But this time she didn’t say anything and just agreed with me.

The manager came in once more and told us that we can only start working tomorrow and onwards. Before we left, he took us to a tour about the shop, the back, the rest room, the uniforms and discussed about the rules and regulations and, of course, the salary.

On our way home, we bought some doughnuts since we had some coffee back home and I love coffee with doughnuts. And just as I was thinking about how the aroma of coffee mixes with the sweetness of doughnuts, a thought crossed my mind:

“Aren’t we supposed to be at your place today?”

Clarissa looked at me as if she never knew she said that to me.

Upon reaching the house, a note was at the door:

“Raijin.

Mom went to some business and I’ll be back tomorrow morning. There’s dinner for the two of you but make sure to reheat it. The door is open and the condoms; you know where to find them.

-Mom”

What is wrong with my mother?

She is just trying to be cautious, do not worry.

Oh please.

You cannot have a healthy young man together with a healthy young woman in a house alone together without contraceptives.

I am not sexually driven, so stop driving me!

“It looks like it’s just us tonight. Wanna stay for dinner? Mom ordered too much.”

“Huh…?”

Ah, of course.

Well, I kind of expected that she wouldn’t actually want to stay. Guess I’ll have her food as my breakfast tomorrow.

Just as I turned around, she was blushing, playing with her hair and moving her right foot anxiously when she said:

“Um, okay. Sure. Yeah, it’s cool.”

EVERYBODY IS DRIVING ME SEXUALLY CRAZY, FUUUUUUUUUUCK! HOW CAN I NOT BE FEELING WEIRD WHEN YOU’RE ACTING LIKE THAT?!

Okay, calm down.

I am now calm.

Remember, you can control yourself.

Yes! Yes I can.

So before you engage, have her BJ you in a condom-

I slapped myself to shake off the fact that even my imaginary narrator was trying to give me tips during sex. Ah, it stings.

“H-Hey, what are you doing?”

“Trying to stay sane. Come on, let’s go in. You need to teach me some things.”

I let her go in my room and I went directly to the kitchen. But a few seconds later, she called me upstairs and asked for my PC’s password.

When I got back downstairs, I prepared a plate for the doughnuts and boiled some hot water for the coffee.

After about three minutes, I got the water and poured some into the two prepared mugs already filled with coffee powder.

I placed everything in a tray and went straight upstairs.

When I opened the door, I found my only friend opening my closet with red coming from her ears and face.

“…”

“Um… what are you doing?”

She slammed the closet closed and pounced to my bed and acted as if nothing happened.

“I’m going to pretend that I didn’t see that for now.”

“H-HUH? SAW WHAT? AHA AHA AHA AHA!”

That’s the worst fake laugh I have heard.

And the loudest.

Nah, but it was a close second to Santa Mom.

Oh, that time you said that Santa is supposed to laugh so hard that she really tried to laugh so hard?

Yeah, it woke up the neighbors. Literally.

“Calm down then. Here are some snacks.”

I placed the tray on the study table and grabbed my own mug. I sat down in my gaming chair waiting for Clarissa to finally gather her thoughts and grab her coffee and doughnut.

“Teach me how to socialize.”

“Huh?”

WHAT THE HECK ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT?

I am in a situation where in I applied to become a part-timer and to get some information. It is a given that I must at least talk and make friends with them you know.

Inside my room filled with the sweet aroma of coffee, I begged for Clarissa to actually teach the things that I have been avoiding for the past fourteen years.

“Hold up Raijin. What the hell are you talking about?”

“How can I talk to strangers if I don’t even know the basics of Getting-To-Know-People 101?”

She made the face that was translated to: “Oh” in English.

“Then what should I teach you? This is literally only to be learned through social experiences which you had none.”

“I did have some.”

“Woah what?”

Clarissa was probably doubting me because I’m anti-social.

“I coordinate with people in in-game parties you know.”

“…”

Were you serious or just trying to tease her? The latter.

“Then come on, stand up.”

She stands up in the middle of the room as she invites me to do so.

I stood up and went to her.

“This is how ‘normal’ people should introduce each other, okay?”

“What’s wrong with the way we introduced ourselves yesterday?”

“Every. Single. Thing.”

Why do you even ask that question?

Because I have no clue whatsoever about self introductions.

You watch romcom movies, moron.

Yeah, but the way the main character and the main heroine knew each other were through either extreme physical and painful contact or through some peculiar event that led them to be with each other. They even sometimes start with the master-servant relationship.

I stand corrected.

She clears her throat and breathes in deeply. She fixes her glasses and looks straight to my eyes.

“Hi! My name is Clarissa. Nice to meet you.”

She reaches for my hand for a handshake.

For some reason, a switch was turned on inside me.

“Uh, what do I do now?”

She looks annoyed at me right now. I’m so sorry for being such a person.

“You shake the person’s hand and say your name. And then say ‘nice to meet you too’.”

She took my right hand and placed it in her own.

Her hand was really soft. I haven’t noticed it the first time from her apartment yesterday, but it suddenly was now.

“Rai-raaaaijiiin.”

“Pfft!”

She was laughing at me?

“You’re so pathetic.”

“Ugh, you’re killing me.”

And so, we spent the next three hours practicing my greetings like “good morning” and the usual “The weather’s fine today, isn’t it?” phrases that will probably only lead to awkward atmosphere.

We also practiced stuff like how to engage and receive conversations. She taught me how to change the topic of the conversation as well. There were a lot of various things she discussed and I don’t want to remember some of them.

Why are you still practicing the greetings in the morning? Don’t you say that to your mom too?

According to her I sound stupid when I greet people.

What the hell.

I know right? I mean, I can’t change my voice. I’m glad I have an ally on that one.

No, not that. I mean I never noticed, so what the hell.

Which side are you on?

Her’s.

Go to hell.

“Okay let’s stop there for now. You already grasped the basics so you should be fine. Hopefully. God, I hope this miracle works.”

Wait, what miracle? Anyway, Clarissa finally wanted to rest. Well, not that she actually did anything but direct my actions and words. She was just-

“Hungry. You’re just hungry, aren’t you?”

“Oh shut up! P-pl-please prepare the food…”

Seriously?

I am really worried about my mom sometimes.

And why is that?

Not only did she predict that Clarissa was coming tonight again, she also predicted that she had a large appetite.

Oh, you’re over reacting. Of course she knows, she’s yo – wait what the hell?

There were two boxes of pizza. My mom and I could only eat one and she would even usually say that if I ate too much pizza I’d get fat.

“Wow, this really is too much. Perfect!”

Now she was drooling and her eyes were sparkling as if she was seeing gold.

“Aren’t you a bit worried about how much my mom knows about you?” is what I want to ask her. But as if I had the guts to ask that or to put my mom in a bad light.

Dude, you need to be really aware of your surroundings.

Record that as a mental note, yeah?

Done.

I reheated the first box and gave it to her. And by the time I reheated the second box, she was already have finished so I let her trade boxes with me.

After that eating, I pretty much stopped with the lessons and stuff. Though I really hate the feeling that I’m being controlled, I can’t help it. I need the money. Oh, yeah and Brandon too of course. But it’s the money for the most part.

We didn’t practice after that though. We just hung around the dinner table and talked about random things like what I like about AR and the lot.

“What about you then? What hobbies are you interested in?”

“Nothing fun I guess.”

Nothing she says.

We can’t force her to actually spill out anything if she doesn’t want to. If she does have a hobby or something.

Aren’t you interested at the very least?

Nope. Maybe? Kinda?

Make up your mind.

Okay, maybe I am interested. But it doesn’t mean I have to pry into her private life.

Do it.

Okay, goddamn it.

“Anything that you like to do is always fun for you. Come on, tell me. Besides, isn’t it kind of unfair that you know my hobby and I don’t know yours?”

“Alright, alright.”

She breathes in for a moment and looks at me and at her hands which were now in her lap consecutively.

“It’s stitching.”

“Oh, cool!”

She bows her head lower.

“Hey, can you make me something? Like a scarf or a handkerchief.”

She nods quietly.

“Hey, thanks! Hey, if you want-”

Woah I just realized something.

What?

Have I been applying everything she’s been teaching me?

Now that I think about it… Nah, you could even hold conversations with her yesterday.

Why can I hold a proper conversation with her?

It’s how you communicate with the people online. You voice call in-game and talk about strategies and stuff right?

Yeah, that’s definitely it.

It has to be it. If not then it’s dangerous to not know what triggered you to that shit.

“Hmm?”

Clarissa finally looks up and it was in the worst time possible since I didn’t have any idea what I was doing.

“N-nothing.”

I tried to make it look like I shrug it off while I hide my face.

“Something popped in my head and I completely forgot what I was going to tell you.”

“Then what were you thinking about?”

Gracious me, don’t ask me about things even I can’t understand.”

“It’s a secret.”

“Boo.”

I tried to laugh and forget the fact that there is something about her that is triggering things inside of me.

Well, I want to know but I possible cannot know. I’m new to dealing with people like her. I can’t even begin to imagine what her friends are or what they look like at the very least.

After dinner, I walked her to her apartment this time.

For some reason, she really didn’t want me to go there. But every time I ask her why I couldn’t come, she would say it was nothing.

In the end I insisted and she gave in.

As we walk down the sidewalk, the city wasn’t that alive like a several hours ago.

The sidewalks dimly lit up the areas. There weren’t many people roaming around cities except for old men who reek of alcohol, trying to get home or a group of girls and guys. Probably a mixer. Nah, it is most definitely a mixer.

I gazed to the dark sky and a sea of stars was beheld.

All of them were devoured by the darkness of the void, yet they seem to shine brighter.

“Hey, Chubbs.”

“Don’t start calling me weird names. It’s disgusting.”

This dog barks and bites. Ouch.

“Lisa is fine. I find my name kind of long as well.”

“Then, Lisa. What did you mean about stars and the past?”

She stopped talking. And after several seconds, I have noticed that she stopped walking as well.

“Do you know light time?”

“?”

“It’s how far a thing is and it’s being measured by how many minutes it takes for light to finally reach that thing.”

I began to try to think critically. But in the end I haven’t the slightest idea.

I looked up to Lisa and she sighs.

“If you look at that star,”

She points upward. I follow her index finger and find myself looking at a star.

“it’s still shining bright. But how sure are you? Those things are hundreds, if not, thousand of light-years away from earth. What if that star is already gone and what we are seeing is just something from the past and is not existing anymore in the present?”

I already stopped looking at the star half-way of her explanation.

Instead of looking at the star, I studied how her facial expression was.

Sorrow, joy, pain, hope.

Those things make no sense but that is what I could see.

Why are you so weird?

And of all the 7 billion people of the world, why did fate choose to have us meet?

“Beautiful…”

I uttered the word and she accidentally heard it and looked at me.

“Yeah, I know-”

She probably thought that I was looking at the stars, but when she looked at me she stopped talking.

We stared at each other for a moment. But that moment felt like a million years.

I thought I had the guts to stare her down but I turned my head away and walked towards her apartment.

“Hey, it’s already getting late. Come on.”

The memory of looking at her red face that was just there. Like a photograph, time was frozen at that time. I still cannot shake of that feeling where there was something clogging in my chest and it was hot and it was painful… but I somehow wanted more of that.

It means we lack sleep and AR. Get her home and grind some stuff and go to bed.

I won’t be grinding until morning I guess.

When we reached the building, a girl was standing in front of the entrance to the lobby.

She wore jeans and a sweater while texting on her phone. Her hair was brown akin to the color of Lisa’s.

She looked at us for a brief moment and waved at us.

Then she looked at me and for some reason she was now smiling.

I looked at Lisa and she was panicking while shaking her head and her hands, gesturing the girl not to do… whatever she was about to do.

In the end, the girl approached us.

Lisa, on the other hand, was ready to leave her body. Her face is red as a tomato and was sweating buckets.

“Hey sis, I was calling you.”

Sis. That explains the brown hair.

“I didn’t know you were with your boyfriend.”

Huh.

Hey, Raijin. What did this kid say?

“I should’ve gone and killed some time in the arcade or somewhere.”

“Um… you’re mistaken. I-”

I was about to clear the misunderstanding when Lisa wanted to screw things up some more.

“N-n-nno! He’s not my boy friend! Just a friend and I came from his place where I was teaching him some practical stuff that needs physical touching and stuff. That’s all! No nothing.”

You made it sound like there was something.

“I guess not. With that ‘physical touching and stuff’, you guys are friends with benefits right?”

I shook my head desperately while her face was screaming “NO!”

“Don’t worry! I won’t tell mom.”

She looked at my pocket where the condom in my left pocket was.

COME ON, WHY!? WHY DID I NOT DROP IT OFF AT MY PLACE?

“It looks like you just wanted a change of place and was ready for round two.”

Lisa was now even more panicking and was redder when she noticed the condom in my pants.

“N-nn-no! It’s not what it looks like! My mom gave it to me yesterday since she was being a complete joker.”

“You’ve got a supportive mom right there.”

I looked at Lisa and gave her the oh-well-I-tried-my-best face.

She then dragged my ass and her sister’s and we all went to her room.

It has been thirty minutes and I was still sitting in the corner and sipping some coffee made by me.

Lisa and her sister were still at it. Lisa tries to explain and her sister refuses to listen and tell her own opinion. I got tired so I asked for three-in-one coffees and made my own cup.

“Come on Kate! Just listen to me!”

“Just admit it that you’re dating. Who believes that that guy is an introvert down to the core? He was walking you to your place late at night. And you looked so lovey-dovey.”

She points at me as if I was a thing.

My response? I sip my coffee and indulge myself in delight.

So her name’s Kate.

Don’t tell me you’re into middle schoolers now.

Maybe.

You’re very gross and I’m ashamed to call you a figment of my imagination.

She looks quite like her sister.

Yup. Most of the facial details match.

But the boobs don’t. I made that conclusion the first time I saw her and hers is obviously smaller.

Why do you only look at girls’ tits all the time? You’re using my eyes, stop corrupting my eyes!

Oh come on. Why are you not looking at boobs? It’s supposed to be normal for you.

Maybe I don’t want to be normal.

Okay fine: I don’t care. I’m attracted to breasts and you should be too.

Yeah okay whatever.

After concluding the little mental quarrel I had with myself, they were still not done.

I stood up, ready to leave when little sister Kate stopped me.

She grabbed my hand and made me turn around to face her.

“Let me get this straight then: this pretty boy is anti-social right?”

She looks at Lisa and Lisa confirms.

I’m not pretty; don’t confirm shit without my permission.

“Then prove it, Mr. Loner.”

“I have no friends. You can look at my contacts. Only my mom, my house, and Clarissa’s numbers are saved there.”

I handed her my phone after unlocking it but she refuses to look.

“Another proof.”

While thinking about how annoying this is, I suddenly remember what narrator was talking about.

“I didn’t even tell the difference of your small boobs and your sister’s big boobs since I don’t really care. Can I go home now?”

Kate was shocked and covered her breasts.

“It’s normal for guys to stare at boobs. I don’t. I only noticed it now.”

I looked at Lisa, who was now probably too tired to do anything about the situation, gestured me to go home. I just gestured to her “good night”.

I walk down the streets all alone in the cold of the night. The wind blows a cold breeze and I reach for my shoulders: I forgot my coat at home.

Why didn’t you notice that earlier?

I dunno. Probably because my senses are already dull in the real world and are just sharper in the virtual world.

You really need to take some time off of AR.

I agree. It might affect my perception of reality.

The chills were now making me regret leaving Lisa’s apartment. I could’ve bunked anywhere anyway.

When I reached my place, I went straight to my bed after locking the place.

I didn’t touch my computer.

I left the lights in my room open too.

Because right now, her scent was lingering in the atmosphere that I can’t even think about doing anything else.

I know that I look like a pervert, but you don’t know what it feels like when you smell the scent of shampoo of a girl.

Even if that girl is a glutton, a brute and really annoying.

My consciousness was slipping away from me as the smell was still there. I never realized that my bed was actually this soft and now I’m starting to like it. Ah, for some reason I can see you clearly. Those glasses, the brown hair that sways and the eyes that stare at me with a smile on your face…

Now I can’t fucking sleep.

Sleep, you’re dead tired.

I can’t

How can you not?

I don’t know. I just can’t

I seriously want to beat the living shit out of that.

Good luck with that.

What do you mean “good luck with that”?

Can you beat me up?

Nope.

Have fun being a non-physical existence.

Oh fuck you kid.

And just like that. I stayed up all night fighting with my mental narrator. And when I thought of her, my chest is hot and cold and blocked and fucked up.

Why is that?

I got to school on time again. But my brain was left at home, sleeping.

How did you even make it: you even showered.

I can’t even tell what was happening in my surroundings and I didn’t have the energy to care so I just let it be.

For some reason, Lisa was on time as well. That’s something new.

Morning greetings and the like in the morning: it looks like this will be my every day morning for the next three years of my life.

Break time was up and I grabbed a can of coffee while Lisa… grabbed everything in sight.

Under the same old tree, we talked about various things: how annoying the speech tones of gals were and the like.

The topic “What if Raijin wasn’t anti-social?” came up as well.

She said that I was supposed to be a popular kid.

That was way off. It might be true that I was more active when I was a kid compared to how I am now, I can’t say that I’ll be a kid who skates and plays sports and being cool to girls and making the all shriek in the halls. No, I refuse to accept it if it were to be my fate.

I told her that I actually just liked to read books ever since I was kid.

I wonder why she doubted me. I had that big ass shelf in my room that was full of novels, light novels, comics and the likes.

Lunch was quite different today.

Lisa had plans today with her friends so she went somewhere.

As for me, I went to the nurse’s office and slept there for the whole break.

I woke up thirty minutes later than expected though and was late.

Not that it matters if I was late or not. Brandon was too kind to let me slip in “without noticing” me.

After school, we went straight for to the store we were supposed to work on today onwards.

I don’t know if I’m looking forward to the job in particular, but Lisa was. She was excited as hell.

“You look like a kid who can’t sleep because of a trip.”

We were walking at the route we took yesterday towards the store.

“No I don’t.”

She does though.

We arrived at the store and went to the back room.

There, the manager was taking a break: right on time.

“Oh hey there. You’re the new guys right?”

I nodded yes as we made our ways toward the available seats.

As soon as we sat down, the manager explained the rules again. He also showed us the uniforms and we changed to it to prepare for work.

I wanted to be always together with Lisa while working as much as possible, but I couldn’t.

The manager asked two of the employees to guide us about what we’re supposed to do and what we’re not supposed to do and the like.

When I met my instructor, it was the girl from the cashier.

Oh for the love of-

“Hey! What a nice coincidence!”

“I don’t think it’s a ‘nice’ coincidence though. But yeah: what a coincidence.”

What a pain.

I knew that this was going to happen in the future but it is still a pain to deal with.

Dude, I remember the times when you buy midnight snacks and she wouldn’t stop blabbering about things we don’t want to her.

Or that time when I was restocking the fridge when she was talking about her friend’s boyfriend.

Or that time when your mom asked you to buy some milk and she talks about the hot guy in one of her classes.

Why did I even bother working here again?

For some reason, Lisa wasn’t assigned to the cashier and I was. That’s odd, shouldn’t it be the man’s job to do the restocking and stuff? Your probably look more feminine than Lisa. Was that supposed to target me or her?

“So, how’s it been with your girlfriend? You swipe the barcode here in the red light thing and it makes a beep sound and records the price on the computer.”

“Don’t have one.”

We were at the counter where… I don’t even know her name.

I glanced at her name tag and it was Linda. Why does her name not suit her? That’s your personal preference.

“You type this and the net worth of all the stuff comes out. Then you ask for the money and press in the bill you receive for the change to be computed. Did the condom I gave you proved useful? Oh, that would be-”

“Didn’t use it. And focus on teaching me please. It’s hard to listen to you.”

“Well, that’s about it. So now is the time to talk about useless things.”

She knows that the stuff she says is useless yet she still talks. Get me out of here.

The sound of the cash register or her voice: which do you think was more dominant?

I have been sitting here for more than an hour serving customers while listening to Linda who can’t even stop talking about her family, her pet, her ex boyfriend and I wish it was legal to kill people.

Raijin, isn’t it about time to get some information?

What do you mean? I’m busy suppressing Linda the machine gun.

Your main purpose was to get information about Brandon. So get to it.

I’ll try.

Based on everything she has been telling me, she was only a year younger than the manager: probably their schoolmate.

“Hey Linda. It looks like you’re pretty tight with the manager. According to your stories since thirty minutes ago.”

“Oh yeah, Alex was always the shy type person. But he was a smart ass when he hooked up his friends with their crushes.”

There it is. Bingo.

“So what about prom?”

“Oh yeah, they were doing something for the bland dude they always had with them. That guy had a crush on this girl but never had the balls to confess. Until now I guess.”

“Brandon?”

“Oh yeah! Brandon was a pussy.”

Brandon as a pussy, manager Alex as a battle strategist, prom night for a confession: it’s obvious.

So should we still work here? We got our info and stuff.

Yup. We still need Alex to help. He knows Brandon way more than I do.

For the next thirty minutes, Linda talked about their high school life. It looks like Brandon was always together with Giselle when they were still middle schoolers. I cannot possibly get information about things buried deep into the past so I cannot confirm but it is highly probable.

Brandon and the dudes only got to know each other when they were in the same class. It was a mere coincidence because they were all forced to attend detention due to bringing things like games and comics.

Since then, they just started hanging out. Until Alex noticed Giselle and wanted to know why Brandon was always with her and stuff. When the whole gang found out, they pestered Brandon to confess but it never happened after many openings that have been opened by Alex and the group.

The last shot they had was their prom. But Linda didn’t have anything to say since she wasn’t in the same year as them.

“Wait, how the heck did you even manage to know all that?”

“I was in the library when they got detention.”

“So you followed them around?”

“Basically. It was fun chatting with those people.”

For you it was fun. I can’t even begin to imagine how annoying it was for those dudes to always listen to your stuff.

Our whole shift was done and I was waiting for Lisa to change in the back room.

I have been thinking about ways to try to talk to the manager but hour break times are different so we don’t meet up in the resting room.

I took a picture of the break time schedule for every shift and saw only a few openings: one on Friday and one on Saturday.

Why Saturday of all the days?

Ugh, this job is going to affect our lives permanently.

I get the feeling that my time for AR will go down exponentially.

This is depressing.

Whatever. We need to get this done pronto.

“I’m done.”

Lisa has finally finished changing and was ready to go home.

“Let’s go. I’ll drop you off at your place. I got some information.”

“Interesting. So did I.”

She smiled at me and our eyes met, signaling ourselves that our plan was actually working.

The same route as usual.

We walked the same road but this time it wasn’t that late.

There were still some people out who were probably buying stuff for their dinner or beer for a party.

On the way to Lisa’s place, I spotted a vending machine spot lighted by a dim street light.

I stopped for a drink and I treated her to one as well.

There was also a bench beside us so we sat and took a break from walking.

“So, how much did you get from the guy who showed you around?”

I asked her before I take a sip of my drink.

“Brandon was also close with Giselle even before high school and middle school. It looks like their houses were right next to each other and were always playing together when they were kids.”

Wow, their bond is deeper than I thought.

“After hearing that they were actually friends since they were still kids, I starting to buy that even Giselle at least liked Brandon.”

I took another sip at my can.

There is this book that I have read about childhood friendships. It was actually written by a distant relative and was never published. But it seems that these hypotheses were true since if I were to apply it to Brandon’s situation it was a perfect fit.

If you are friends with the opposite sex when you were still kids, the thought “I think I like her” will never come across your mind since you only probably think of her as a playmate.

Kids are gullible. They are so gullible to the extent that a person can control a child’s emotion and feelings. And if you were to try to “plant” the concept of crushing a person in their mind, they accept it whole heartedly.

But it doesn’t end there. If you were a kid and was told that that other kid was pretty and you’d be a nice cute couple and you’d start looking at her in the same light, you will carry that thought without thinking about her looks, personality whatsoever. And when you two hit middle school, you would be surprised that she was prettier than ever and the trench your mind has created has dug itself deeper.

The infatuation you believed was true is slowly turning real and was becoming more dangerous because as you grow older, your play mate becomes prettier.

Brandon, in his childhood, probably had the same case. He might have had a relative or a sibling teasing him that it led him to start looking at Giselle in that manner.

It was the only case I could think of since they were friends since kids.

“Yup. That’s the only thing I can think of. Kids tend to hold on to many things until they’re adults. And if Brandon as a kid believed he had a crush on Giselle as a kid, then he would hold on to that feeling until middle school and voila: a total love-struck retard.”

I take another sip in my drink.

The picture was now clear.

“What did you find?”

Lisa asked me while she held the can in between her thighs with two hands.

“Alex, the manager, was a strategist. He wanted Giselle and Brandon to hook up but it failed since Brandon was a pussy. And their gang only formed in high school. My assumption of both of them being childhood friends was correct after all.”

I stood up and stretched my body.

“All that’s left is to talk to Alex about a new plan. I want you to research more of his friends. If some of the members of the gang were to suddenly pop out of the blue, we will try to talk them to helping us. But the main priority is Alex for now.”

I turned around to look at her.

She was listening and looking at me like a dog waiting for her orders.

Are dogs supposed to be cute?

“Come on then. Let’s get you home.”

She smiled at me and offered her hand.

I smiled back after her mental message was received and decoded by my brain.

I pulled her from the bench and we tripped a bit which led to an awkward position.

Our faces were so close to each other than a small lean forward would lead to a kiss.

Her flushed face was there before me and my mind was going blank as her breath hypnotizes me. Her glasses began to drop from her temple to the tip of her nose, revealing her brown and beautiful eyes.

“Hey, did you plan on making me panic so much?”

I whispered to her ear after leaning in forward to the left.

“Hey how did you know?”

And we began to walk.

After a few minutes, we finally reached her place. I waved her goodbye and went on my way as well.

I took the same route as yesterday. But for some reason, it took longer than I expected. I wonder why? Was the trip from her place to my place always this long?

I’m beginning to scare myself with these tiny details.

I was walking towards my place when I saw the Alex was leaving the store. It looks like his shift was done as well.

So are we going to do this?

Do what?

We need to convince him right?

But I haven’t introduced myself properly.

Now is the time.

Okay, let’s do this then.

“Hey there!”

I tried to sound as natural as possible but I could feel my throat not being natural.

“Can I bother you for a minute?”

Explaining a situation as a person who doesn’t always explain situations is hard. But for some reason, I managed to maintain my speech pattern and was able to express my thoughts.

“Hmm.”

Alex was thinking hard. Obviously. You don’t always see guys scratching their heads after listening to a problem, right?

I can see it. I can read his movements.

He is thinking hard for his friend. He wants him to be happy and knows that the girl would be happy as well. But it looks like he doubts something – probably if there were still a chance or if Giselle is still single. Oops, I forgot to say that. If I didn’t, he would’ve said yes with no hesitation.

“Is Giselle –”

“Single? Yes.”

I interrupted him just so I can finally get on with discussing the plans we can have.

“Alright. But we need to know their statuses first.”

“I got it covered: they’re both teaching at the same high school. Brandon never made a move, Giselle never noticed. That’s the gist of it.”

Given his facial expression, it looks like her knew that Brandon was a coward in the end. But he was still thinking about something when his phone rang.

“Excuse me.”

I nodded.

He picked his phone up but put it down instantly. Wife or girlfriend? Probably her mom. Ouch.

It looks like fear struck his heart because he was sweating buckets.

“I guess I’ll just message you?”

He nods, confirming our appointment… in cyberspace.

“It might take a while but if you’re willing to stay up until she settles down then we can discuss what needs to be discussed.”

Though it sounded cool, his face had “fear” written all over it.

After waving him goodbye, I continued my journey back home.

Right after I opened the door with the spare key I have, my mom was wearing a dress and thick make up on her face.

You already know what my face looked like when I saw my mom being weirder than I am.

“What are you doing?”

“Where’s your girlfriend?”

Is this her way of showing off?

I think it is?

Hey, she’s your mom. How can you not possibly know?

Hey, I never had any friends. My mom can’t show off to thin air now, can she?

I stand corrected.

I told mom that Lisa wasn’t coming and that her dress was embarrassing so I was thanking the stars that she didn’t come with me to my place today.

After she was disappointed, she changed clothes and we ate dinner.

Dinner was the only time we can share our thoughts. But tonight I’m feeling like an astronaut.

I never said a word because I was thinking of possible plans to help Brandon with his love. A two decade old love.

“Hey,”

My mom began to open a conversation.

“for some reason you’re not talking about your games or how annoying school is.”

With that statement, I can’t even reply anything.

It was probably because I was too busy dealing with some stuff.

Or probably because I had a new friend to talk to.

How could I possible know what’s new with me?

“That’s good.”

I still haven’t said a word.

“I’m happy that you finally have a friend.”

I looked at her and saw her face was sincere. Even if she was mom, I could still read her emotions.

I smiled back at her, saying,

“Thanks, mom.”

“Especially that your ‘friend’ is actually a ‘girlfriend’ and she’s a really hot chick. Her boobs are even bigger than mine!”

“Mom, what the heck.”

I made a face palm instinctively due to the fact that my mother, who was supposed to be more matured at stuff like this, is actually praising my friend for having bigger boobs than her.

Dinner that night made it seem that the bitter world was millions of miles away from us. It was as if my mom was lighting a small candle in the middle of the void. My mom is my first ally after all. I’m grateful that I have her.

After dinner, I washed the dishes for the first time in the history of my life. Well, not actually but it was such a long time since I last washed the dishes.

Mom was actually really tired and was just pushing herself to try to make the mood in the house as nice as it could be, so I just volunteered to do dishes.

Sometimes, my mom tends to be too nice to people that she gets out of her way just to help them even if the results of her work are significant or not. I’m sometimes worried that her body might suddenly reach the point where she suddenly collapses.

After I put away everything, I went upstairs and changed into my boxers and tank top.

I immediately opened my computer and went downstairs to grab some drinks and chips.

As soon as the PC booted, I typed my password in, opened my browser and messaged Alex.

“Hey man. Reply when you’re free.”

I was thinking about messaging Lisa as well, but she’s probably busy doing what I told her to do. And besides, she’d still be up until 10 or somewhere along those lines.

I checked the time and it was 7:03 P.M.

After that, I logged on to Ancient Ruins and began to kill some time while slaying filthy mobs that get in the way of my grinding!

After about two and a half hours, Alex finally replied.

I exited the launcher for AR and started the battle tactics we were to use again the raid boss named “Childhood friend.” Operation “Two decade love” begin! Cool name. I came up with it.

For the first few minutes of out session, he was wondering why I was more awkward in person. I couldn’t explain him the details though, so I always shoved off the topic whenever he opens it up.

We couldn’t come up with a nice event where Brandon and Giselle would be alone together. But every time we think of something, Alex would think that Giselle would probably notice. For someone who has ignored a man for twenty years, I’m truly amazed as to how the fuck can she still notice that.

We finally settled with something: a Class reunion.

It seems that they haven’t had their reunion as well so it’s cool and not suspicious. But the question was how much time was needed to prepare for that event and the few backstage helpers we need to execute this plan. Luckily, Alex was still in contact with all of the members of his gang.

Alex messaged the currently rich friend who was part of their gang. So I went and messaged Lisa. I asked her to ignore the latest thing I asked her to do and think of organizing a high school reunion.

She was mad at me because she got some stuff already. But I begged enough for her to do it.

A: “Okay, so Rex is green. Rex is a rich dude who has a mansion we can party at.”

S: “What is the effect of booze towards Brandon?”

A: “Changes personalities. He spews out things he usually keeps himself.”

“Oh, I see what you want to do.”

S: “Can you also ask the rich guy to buy a little earpiece for us to speak with Brandon anytime? He might chicken out and stuff seeing the fact that he has been chickening out for the past two decades.”

A: “Don’t worry. That guy could provide all of our stuff.”

S: “Cool. Let’s have the party two months from now. Can you pitch in Rex to a group chat? I’ll chunk in my organizing friend.”

I asked Lisa to join the group chat room we were having. So now, there were four people discussing about a coward’s love life.

Now that you think about it, this is quite a hassle.

Why are we even doing this?

I can’t remember. But come on: it’s fun isn’t it?

Oh yeah it is.

Rai: “Mr. Rex, we understand that you will provide us with the resources we need. But we also need to check the venue of the part, is that cool?

Rx: “Super cool.”

Rai: “I’ll bring Clarissa with me as well since she would be organizing this. We, Clarissa and I, will also make invitations that will cost some money.

Rx: “Okay.”

C: “Okay.”

A: “I guess that’s about it for tonight. Rex, I’ll send you the list of the things we need. Add some of stuff you need for your organizing work and the invitation, Clarissa.”

C: “Sure.”

A: “I’ll come to your school to discuss things with Brandon.”

Rai: “Adjourned.”

After everybody left the chat room, I decided to discuss some more stuff about the invitations with Lisa.

I asked her if she could make fifty invitations after a month and she said she could if she had some help. I guess I’ll be helping and I’ll force her sister to do so as well.

I also told her about the planning Alex and I have gone through about the alcohol and the ear piece. And since we cannot attend the party directly, we will be the ones guiding Brandon via ear piece.

C: “I hope this plan works.”

R: “Trust me. It’s like chess. Now go to bed.”

C: “Later. You’re not my mom.”

R: “I’m hitting the hay then. Later.”

The next morning, I talked to Rex about ear pieces. I decided to add in some cameras as well but it will be set up a two nights before the party proper.

It looks like Rex was willing to spend a large quantity of money for the sake helping Brandon via a couple of strangers. I sometimes wonder how much trust they can put on kids who were only annoyed by the toxic gas their Calculus teacher was emitting every time she talks about love or dating.

When I asked him why he trusts me so much, he replied:

“That dude has been in love with Giselle without being able to do anything. It’s like a thing you want to reach and it’s so close. But you just can’t.”

That’s one caring friend.

I’m now starting to wonder if I will ever have a friend like him.

The day proceeded like it usually was. As soon as school is over, we head towards the convenience store. This time, I didn’t have to listen to Linda so I had peace. After our shift is done, I walked Lisa to her place. Come to think of it, I never talked with Kate after that night. I never bothered anyway. As soon as I get home, I play AR until I’m exhausted.

That was how the past two days were until Saturday came.

 

Playing Cupids

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