Gamers! v2c1

Amano Keita and the Sold Out Game

TL: qbomb
Editor: Deus Ex Machina

The best kind of game is definitely an action RPG with local multiplayer.

…What am I talking about? I, Amano Keita, am creating a

“List of genres that are easy and fun to play with siblings”

—that’s what I was in the middle of doing.

Everything after first place, though, is bunched together. Fighting games, puzzle games, sugoroku, horizontal scrolling games, shooting games, all of these are interesting to play with two people.

However, I still think that an action RPG with local multiplayer is the best type of game to play with a brother. Rather than handheld games like Monster Hunter, hack and slash games that can be played on a single big screen… like that game called Diablo is best.

What is good about these kind of games is that there is the feeling of “playing together”. We aren’t fighting each other, but cooperating. Of course, there has to be some fighting. By introducing the RPG element, it can be played for a very long time without getting tired of it.

Having a sibling means that you see each other every day in the house. Naturally, that also means that there’s way too much free time. When you have too much free time, the ability to have fun together at the same time becomes way more valuable.

When we play in front of the big TV, though, my mom complains and tells us to get out of our room, while dad just eats pistachios and silently reads the newspaper.

This is when I feel the happiest.

If I were to talk about “Games that are fun to play with friends”, though, the situation is completely different. Since I don’t spend long periods of time at home with friends, mobile games that occasionally require cooperation such as hunting games are best.

…Ah, well.

 

I, Amano Keita, don’t have any friends to play hunting games with, so I wouldn’t know.

 

…N-no, don’t misunderstand. Before high school… in middle and elementary school, I had close friends. R-really.

Back then, I spent a lot of time in the baseball club, so when I got the chance to play with friends, we would only play fighting games for a short amount of time…

W-well, I, Amano Keita, am a gamer through and through.

As a second-year high school student, I still haven’t played any hunting games with friends.

…N-no, let’s say that differently.

I, Amano Keita, am a solo player.

I have decided to play alone because I do not want other people to leech off me.

…Yes, that’s it. I’ll use “Bocchi”.[1]

W-wait, no! I didn’t know anyone a month ago… but now I have classmates I can call friends!

Well, that friend is…

 

“When you say that playing with your brother is your source of happiness, people stop listening.”

He’s really harsh.

The classroom was really lively and loud in the morning. In the seat in front of me, Uehara Tasuku-san shrugged his shoulders and let out a sigh after listening to me talk..

Even though I wouldn’t usually reply, because it was about games, I wanted to object to his words. When I saw him interact cheerfully with our classmates, however, my fighting spirit died back down.

I guess you could call him a riajuu? He has a lot of friends, gets along with everyone, and even has a cute girlfriend. Compared to me, who reverts back to checking my mobile game during breaks, he’s the complete opposite.

Obviously, despite being classmates, we’ve only started talking recently. But because we have a point in common, he’s now my friend… or rather, Uehara-kun worries about me.

While he was greeting his classmates, he noticed me fidgeting, and let out another deep sigh.

“Hey, Amano. I’m not saying that you should be like me all of a sudden, but can’t you try harder?”

“E-even if you say that…”

Is he talking about trying to make friends? I don’t know what he’s referring to. Ever since elementary school, I’ve always thought that “Friends are formed naturally” and that they aren’t “forcibly made”. Also, I was never good at getting close to people since I was always shy.

Uehara-kun started lecturing me as if he was my dad.

“I’ve said this multiple times now. Not having friends isn’t bad. Of course, spending your time happily with your family is good and all, but you have a goal in mind, right? …Trying to get closer to Tendo is a really far-fetched goal, but it’s your goal nevertheless.”

“Ugu…”

That pained me. Because of certain circumstances, I somehow started trying to get closer to Tendo-san.

Attractive, intelligent, and athletic. Even though she’s Japanese, she has blonde hair and blue eyes, and is an existence that has surpassed the level of “riajuu” and approaches godlike status.

For a… mob character like me, trying to get closer to a girl like her is a foolish thought.

Well, there still is a bit of hope, since we are more or less acquaintances. I was given the once in a lifetime opportunity to listen to her speak, and I engraved that memory into my heart…

“Well… Even I don’t think I can continue on like this.”

“I guess.”

Uehara-kun nodded. I balled my fists and looked out the window. …It reminds me of another cloudy day.

The relationship between me and Tendo-san can be described as tenuous. Not normal, not negative, but extremely thin. Of course, in a bad way.

In the first place, if my relationship with the school idol Tendo-san ended as being acquaintances, I would normally feel privileged. But… because of my actions, her impression of me is not very good (or at least, that’s what I think). I guess you could call it a very big debt?

Because of that, I can’t turn around and go, “Everything’s fine if I just have games!”. I want to apologize to her… no, rather, I want to improve our relationship.

…After all, it’s sad to leave a bad impression on someone who called out to me.

When I resolved myself, Uehara-kun looked over, slightly puzzled but still smirking.

“Well, it’s natural for a man to want to get closer to a beautiful girl.”

“I-it’s not like that!”

“Really?”

“…No… well… Tendo-san is certainly better than anyone else…”  

Uehara-kun let out yet another sigh when I blushed and muttered with my head down.

“… Why aren’t you guys dating already…”

“Huh? What are you talking about?”

“No, it was nothing—”

“You’re talking as if Tendo-san likes me.”

“Why are you only perceptive in this kind of scene!? You blockhead of a main character!”

“Eeh!? What!? Why are you getting mad at me for getting your joke!?”

There are limits to how unreasonable you can be! Well, he’s probably trying to annoy me by bringing up Tendo-san. Am I that funny to tease just because I’m trying to get closer to the school idol? …No, from an outsider’s point of view, it probably is funny, huh.

Anyway, we both got too engrossed in the conversation, so I changed the topic.

“Oh right, Uehara-kun, do you want this game?”

“Huh?”

At the sudden change in topic, Uehara-kun tilted his head in puzzlement. Reaching for my bag, I took out a game for consoles. Uehara-kun let out a voice of wonderment.

“Is that Kurikure 3? Wow, you got a copy.”

“Ah, yea, well, I preordered it.”

While Uehara-kun was looking at the package, I lightly scratched my cheek.

Crystal Cradle—or the Kurikure Series for short, is a top-down perspective hack and slash action game. It’s a really popular smash hit with lots of sales, good reviews, and with the release of the third game, is currently in very high demand with low stock. Despite having DLC’s, its price on online auction sites are steadily increasing, and even Uehara-kun knows how difficult it is to get a copy. However…[2]

I timidly proposed a deal to Uehara-kun, who was eyeing the package in envy.

“Uehara-kun, do you want this…?”

“Ha? Not even lend, but you want to give it to me? That precious thing?”

“Ah, yea.”

In a panic, I tried to explain to him as he tilted his neck in confusion.

“No, I have another copy. Of course, I preordered one. But at the same time, I entered a giveaway on a whim. But I also won the giveaway, so…”

“I see now. Sounds like something you’d do. Well, if that’s the case, I understand, but…”

Uehara-kun made a grim face. When I asked, “What’s wrong?”, he scratched his head awkwardly.

“Wait… Why are you giving this to me?”

“What? Why, you say… I thought that you’d be happy if I gave it to you.”

Uehara-kun suddenly went “Oof” and awkwardly twitched, but cleared his throat and responded.

“I-I’m thankful, but you should probably think about how you use things.”

“Huh? Oh, like selling it online for a high price? Hmm, but I don’t want to do something like that…”

“No, that’s a good idea, but you can probably do something even better.”

“What? What would that be…”

I was utterly confused. Uehara-kun sighed yet again, and with a mischievous smile, held the game right in front of my face.

“First of all, shouldn’t you see whether or not Tendou-san has this game?”

“Oh!”

In that moment, my outburst echoed in the classroom.

 

    *

 

Uehara-kun was right.

In other words, Tendo-san didn’t have a copy of Kurikure 3 and was looking for it.

“It looks like she really wants it.”

That was one of my few friends, Misumi Eichi-kun, who was pretty close to Tendo-san.

When I learned of this during the lunch break, I immediately went to Uehara-kun and told him of the news. He was finishing up his lunch with Aguri-san (I got a fierce glare from her—please forgive me). Sitting down in the same seat as he was this morning, he started to think of strategies as if he was trying to do something evil.

“Hey, this is a perfect chance. The way you use this game is going to be a major factor in this love comedy—”

“Ah, by the way, Uehara-kun, do you really not want Kurikure 3? It’s really interesting—”

“Are you an idiot!?”

“Ow!”

He sent a chop towards my head. Why did he have to hit me with all his strength!?

“You’re really a big idiot! If I said ‘I want it’, would you hand it over to me!?”

“Ah, yea, if you said you wanted it, I would give it to you. It’s really interesting… Ow, it hurts!”

He hit me again on the top of my head. Hitting me twice is too harsh… While I was groaning in pain with teary eyes, Uehara-kun started shouting at me with a flushed face.

“What are you doing!? You’re stupid! You’re really stupid!”

“If you’re saying it twice, then this must be really important…”

“Of course! Seriously, you… Well, it’s because you’re like this that I get this worked up…”

“Ehehe, Uehara-kun, do you like me that much—O-ouch!”

He hit me again. Cruel. This is too harsh. I can feel a bump forming on my head. Even my parent’s don’t hit me like this. Seriously.

“You… Well, fine. Anyway, I really don’t need this game. Just give it to Tendo-san somehow. Put in so much effort as if you’d die any time now.”

“W-wouldn’t it be really creepy if some otaku tried to give a girl a game like that?”

“W-well, I guess. …Then try and give it to her casually, in a refreshing manner, but with that much effort.”

“This feels like a terrifyingly dark plan…”

With a sigh, I thought over the plan once again.

Putting the game down, I tapped my fingers on the table.

 

    *

 

“Eh, did Tendo-san not come to the Gamers club today?”

I rushed to the Gamers club room right after school.

Misumi-kun made an apologetic face.

“Sorry, Amano-kun. It looks like I underestimated her desire for Kurikure 3.”

“What are you talking about?”

“I mean, Tendo-san… took a break from club activities today to go look throughout the town to find the game.”

“What!?”

“Also, it looks like her phone died. I haven’t been able to contact her at all.”

“Oh…”

Misumi-kun scratched his head in embarrassment.

“Well, I always thought that Tendo-san was more of the stoic, honors student…”

“Right? Well, in the first place, she joined this school because of the club…”

“Ah…”

We both exchanged wry smiles. Saying my thanks, I left the club room and started to think more about my plan.

“(Well, should I give it to her tomorrow? …But, if Tendo-san finds a copy today, everything’s over. No, even if she doesn’t find a copy, she might settle for downloading the game.)”

As I thought, are evil plans bound to be unsuccessful?

Leaving the building, I headed towards the nearby bus stop to go home—not. Rather, I started walking towards the urban area.

“(No, that’s bad! Leaving aside my own feelings, if I gave this to her, she wouldn’t have to waste her money unnecessarily! Alright, let’s try harder! Let’s look for Tendo-san!)”

She’s helped me before. So, if I have even the smallest possibility of helping her, I shouldn’t give up so easily.

With renewed determination, I started jogging down the street.

“(In this area, there should be three places to buy new games.)”

I thought of the best route to look for her. Since I also like games, I frequented this route after school to look at games. But…

“(Since Tendo-san left school a while ago, it might be better to look for her starting from the furthest area first…)”

Instead of following her, there’s probably a higher chance of meeting her if I try to go the opposite way.

Making up my mind, I decided to go to the toy section in the department store that is the furthest from school and has the worst selection of games.

Going up the escalator, I went towards the toy section, feeling a bit out of place. Walking up to the video game display, I looked around for Tendo-san, but I didn’t see her nearby.

“(Looks like she’s not here…)”

Even though she wasn’t there, I wasn’t disappointed. I felt that if I got to find her, it would be a great deal. …Well, I didn’t really profit though.

Because I didn’t see Tendo-san, I went to the counter to see if there was a copy of Kurikure.

“Um… well, this area’s pretty messy…”

That’s typical of a department store. There’s something that looks like a new releases section, but there were games from over a month ago. But it looked kind of strange, so it looked great for finding weird games. However—

“So, um, Chri… Christmas Idol? So you guys don’t have that game!?”

Suddenly, the voice of a male who sounded too old to be in the toy department rang out. I looked towards the source of the voice.

In front of the counter was a 40-something man who was pressing the clerk for answers. He was wearing a white shirt with the top button unfastened and was holding a jacket in his right hand. It looked like he was an office worker, but he was also wearing chinos, so I .

“(He has a somewhat rough appearance, but still looks strangely handsome…)”

One reason for his rough appearance is because he’s somewhat good-looking, but seeing him desperately asking the clerk for the game looks straight out of a drama.

Feeling slightly nervous, the clerk said, “Like I said, we don’t have the game Christmas Idol at this store…”, but he slammed his fist against the counter and sent an earnest gaze to the clerk.

 

“In the first place, it might not even be called Christmas Idol!”

“Uh—”

At the same time as the clerk did, I raised my voice. He glanced at me for a second, but turned back to her.

Oddly, my heart started beating faster.

“(W-what is this? Are they actors? It’s completely like they’re on a stage…)”

I felt like they would shout “Oh, god, we have to redo it!?” any time now.

She turned to deal with the customer once again.

“Um, but I don’t really know the name myself…”

“Tsk…! Is there nothing that can be done!?”

He hung his head. …It was the first time I heard anyone say that in real life.

“(I shouldn’t be sitting around watching… I’m wasting time.)”

I should probably leave right after I confirm that they don’t have Crystal Cradle 3—

“Cra… cr, cracking Chestnut Condor! It’s something like that, then the number 3!”

“!?”

I looked over towards the counter. By any chance…

In contrast to me, the clerk was looking up the game “Cracking Chestnut Condor”, and obviously, got the result “No matches”.

“Dammit…! Is it the end of the line!?”

Why are you using that phrase? …Well, that’s fine, but was he searching for…  

While wondering what I should do, he looked over to me and shouted at me.

“You boy, over there!”

“Over there!?”

Again, why is he talking like that?

When I asked “Y-yes?” while trembling in fear, he called out to me with a sharp glint in his eye.

“Shoplifting is a crime!”

“What!?”

Somehow, I was accused of a ridiculous crime. However, he crossed his arms and started nodding.

“It’s ok, it’s ok. It’s ok if you don’t say anything. Everyone does one or two bad things in their youth. Today, I’ll overlook it. Right, Tanabe-san?”

“Yes?”

The clerk—or rather, Tanabe-san, spoke as if she didn’t hear anything. At least it seems like she didn’t suspect me at all. That makes me relieved, but… But…

“…Just go, boy.”

“No no no no no!”

Go!? How can I leave in this situation!?

Blood rushed up to my head as I approached him, trying to tell him that I wasn’t a shoplifter… I tried my best to tell him.

“I-I think it’s Crystal Cradle!”

“…What?”

He blinked in surprise. Before anything else came out, I had to correct the title of the game first. …I’m hopeless.

At that moment, the clerk went “Oh” and looked it up at the register. It seems like the search yielded a result.

“Crystal Cradle! Was the game you were looking for called Crystal Cradle, sir?”

“Hmm…? …Oh! It is! It is Crystal Cradle!”

His face brightened up. With a smile, he forcibly took my hand and shook it.

“Thank you, boy! You helped me remember the name!”

Another exaggeration. I wryly smiled and said “No, it was nothing…” but he continued on with a broad grin.

“Alright, for your good deed, I’ll forgive your sins!”

“No no no, in the first place, I—”

“It’s in stock!”

“Huh?”

The clerk interrupted our conversation.

“The game Crystal Cradle 3 is in stock! There’s only one copy, though…”

“Eh!?”

Of course, the man shouted in a panic. That’s odd, when I checked, it was already too late…

“W-where is it!?”

He asked the clerk, almost falling over. She said “Give me a second”, but then…

“Oh.”

“…Oh?”

She looked at us with an awkward smile.

“The only copy of Crystal Cradle 3 was just bought.”

“What!?”

Both of us shouted in surprise. Well, I didn’t want it, but questions still arose. Thinking that it probably was Tendo-san that got it, I was feeling regretful.

The clerk was looking around awkwardly. …? Exchanging glances with the man, we followed her gaze, and…

“…Ah.”

Over there, was another person.

At the counter on the other side of the store, someone was finishing up their purchase, and it was clear that the bag was just the right size for the game.

“Oh!”

At our loud voices, the person who finished the purchase turned around. …Wait, I just realized, but that uniform… and that hairstyle…

“…Keita?”

“Chiaki!?”

My enemy, Hoshinomori Chiaki, was looking at us with her head tilted in curiosity.

better quality chiaki

Noticing that I was looking at the shopping bag she was holding, she looked at me with an evil smile.

“Yay~, I got the last copy of Crystal Cradle 3, I’m so lucky, ehehe.”

“Tsk… Chiaki, you…!”

What a bad personality! Why is a girl like her becoming popular at school! N-no, if I think about it, I already have two copies, so her smug smile doesn’t really mean anything… But why do I feel a strange sense of defeat!

Right. Even though I already had a copy, the man next to me, though…

“Y-you! You over there!”

“Hii!?”

The man clearly thought that Chiaki was making fun of him, and shouted at her.

“(Crap!)”

Chiaki, who’s really timid when she talks to people other than me, started trembling with teary eyes. I tried to stop the man.

“W-wait! This is a misunderstanding! Chiaki, don’t do stupid things and just go!”

“Uuh…! …K-keita, you’re stupid, stupid!

“Why!?”

For some reason, Chiaki ran away in tears. I don’t know why, but she seems to dislike me more. …Well, that’s fine. I don’t care whether or not she likes me.

“Let go! Let go, boy! You guys were conspiring together, weren’t you! Dammit!”

“You’re misunderstanding everything!”

Trying to calm him down, I explained the situation to him and that Chiaki had done nothing wrong.

When he regained his composure, he bowed his head to both me and the clerk as he said “S-sorry…” in apology.

“I got really into it somehow, as if I was acting on stage…”

“We know.”

The clerk and I both immediately replied, and he bowed once again. And then he said, “Oh, right.” and took out a business card. As expected, the profile written on the card was…

“You’re Miyamoto Satoshi-san, an actor…”

“Yes, for the most part, I always act like I’m on stage.”

He replied with a grin, his white teeth showing. Unfortunately, I’ve never heard of his name, but I feel like he would be a popular celebrity.

He once again bowed to the clerk, said goodbye, and turned his back to the counter. Because I couldn’t stand it anymore, I first said to the clerk, “I really didn’t shoplift!”, to which she replied with a wry smile, “Alright, I got it.” I then promptly said goodbye and left the area.

Of course, I didn’t have anything else to do with the man, but for some reason he followed me and eventually caught up to me, walking side by side with a big smile.

“Fuu… Both you and I have things to reflect on, huh?”

“No, I really don’t have anything to reflect on!”

For some reason, I was included. Is he still doubting me?

While walking, I tried my best to convince him that I really didn’t shoplift. When we approached the entrance of the department store, he said “Well then, bye…” and we separated.

“Sorry for everything, boy! Stay strong!”

“H-hah.”

Miyamoto-san waved goodbye while shouting in a loud voice, while I returned a small bow and hurried away.

“(I somehow met a strange person… Anyway, let’s not lose focus of the goal.”

Once again, I started to look for Tendo-san at the nearby game stores.

The next store is the only electronics store in town. The good thing is that everything there is reasonably priced, but it doesn’t focus on games, and so it has a bad selection and bad inventory. It’s a place I go to without any expectations from the beginning. If it has what I’m looking for, it’s lucky event, not anything ordinary. Well, it’s that kind of place.

After walking for five minutes, I arrived at the store. Making my way to the game corner, I looked at the TV in the store that had the news on. …I’m not a gamer that really cares about the display lag, but I am fascinated by good TVs.

At that moment, a game commercial played on the TV. After watching it to the very end, I arrived at the game corner. However…

“(As I thought, Tendo-san doesn’t seem to be here…)”

I would be able to tell if Tendo-san was here in an instant because of her easily recognizable blonde hair and blue eyes. But then again, there were so many people, so I wouldn’t know unless she was nearby.

Looking through the store, I checked the shelves, made sure that Kurikure 3 wasn’t there, and so I should now—

“Do you have the game Tartar Sauce Binge Drinking!?”[3]

—leave, but at that moment, I overheard another person asking about a game at the cash register. Acting on a hunch, I peeked through the shelves and looked at the situation. Over there…  

“It’s Tartar something! No, it might not even be Tartar!”

“Uh… yes?”

—The male actor was annoying the clerk and putting him on the spot.

The clerk looked new to the job and looked around for his co-workers, but no one was around. Meanwhile, he—Miyamoto-san kept repeating strange titles.

…I just want to leave. I have things to do. But…

“…Uh,  I think this person is trying to ask for the recently released game, Crystal Cradle 3. Do you have any copies in stock?”

“Oh, you’re…”

“P-please wait a bit.”

While Miyamoto-san was still surprised, the clerk searched for the game. Miyamoto-san turned to me with a smile at the chance encounter.

“This is good fortune! A blessing!”

“Ahaha… t-thanks.”

I made another awkward smile when he started talking as if he was acting. And then I tilted my head in confusion.

“Why are you here, too? By any chance, are you looking for the same game?”

“Huh? Oh, well, something like that.”

Truthfully, I’m looking for someone who is looking for the game. I didn’t try to explain that since it would be confusing.

Miyamoto-san, with a grim expression, mumbled “Is that so…”.

“It looks like this game is a popular one. …I should put in more effort.”

“…Um, by any chance, do you normally have no interest in games?”

I asked because I was interested. No, rather, I thought that he would know the name of the title if he had an interest in games.

Miyamoto-san scratched his head in embarrassment.

“Truthfully, yea. I heard that this was really popular these days, so I became interested. But I haven’t been able to find it anywhere, so I was starting to get annoyed.”

“Hah… I see.”

I didn’t know Kurikure was popular enough to attract the attention of non-gamers. That would certainly cause stock to drop a lot quicker, too.

“(…Although, in that case, I wish people that are more interested in games would be able to get a copy… At least, if there was only one copy and both Tendo-san and this man were there, I would definitely want Tendo-san to get it.)”

In this case, it’s not that bad, but if people who weren’t interested didn’t buy any copies, the ones who actually played games would be able to buy it.

While I was thinking, the clerk gave us the bad news.

“Ah, it looks like Crystal Cradle 3 is not in stock. I’m sorry.”

“I see… Alright. Sorry for troubling you. Well then!”

Miyamoto-san left the place in a gallant manner. I also started walking in the same direction. He was scratching his cheek and mumbling to himself.

“Umu, not here too. Money isn’t a problem, but rather…”

“Then you can find them on online auctions, you know.”

“No, that’s a bit different. I want to have it in my hand, not shipped to me later. I would be able to pay anything for a copy.”

“Hah…”

I could understand his sentiment. If there was a game I really wanted, I would search everywhere for it and buy it for a fixed price without any discounts.

Facing the exit, I said my goodbye, and walked away.

Behind me, I heard Miyamoto-san talk to himself in a loud voice.

“Ah, isn’t there anyone that has a copy of the game…”

*flinch*

“If someone had it, I would negotiate anything for it…”

*shudder*

I tried to look behind me. …I don’t feel like anyone’s staring at me. It looks like he’s actually talking to himself. …A monologue, is it? Well, he is an actor, so…

Suddenly, our eyes seemed to meet, and I turned around in a panic.

“(If he learns that I have an extra copy, then this’ll become really troublesome…!)”

Tensing up, I quickly walked out of the building.

Walking fast enough to be about of breath, I reached the last store… It was a game shop that I frequently visited.

“(…I have to be careful to not meet that person again!)”

I headed towards the game shop using a road that I didn’t use very often. It wasn’t much different from walking on the main street, but it’s narrow and dark, so I preferred the main road.

“(Anyway, I probably won’t meet Miyamoto-san on this road… but wait a second!)”

While walking, I realized an important point.

“(That also means Tendo-san probably doesn’t use this road!)”

What should I do? Because I was too occupied with avoiding Miyamoto-san, I forgot… that my original goal was to encounter Tendo-san by going the opposite direction of her path.

“Uwaa, what if we pass each other…”

I thought of going back and taking the main road again, but I was already too far away.

Letting out a sigh, I decided to keep walking to the last shop. Perhaps, for some reason, Tendo-san might be going home later than I thought, and she might still be at the store.

With a faint hope, I entered the familiar game store. …I think it was also here that I was able to talk to Tendo-san for the first time.

“(Alright. I feel like… another fateful encounter will happen here!”

If this was a love comedy, where else would an event be?

As I walked towards the inner part of the store, my heart started racing.

As I thought, my expectations were splendidly—

“(…Yea—)”

crushed. There was no blonde-haired, blue-eyed girl in here.

This is my life—mediocre. Things like a love comedy template wouldn’t apply to me. Speaking of which, a flag which would be more appropriate is—

“Shopkeeper, please!”

“(He came!)”

Upon hearing that distinctive voice once again, I immediately hid myself behind the shelves.

He—Miyamoto-san entered the store, looked around the store to see if I was there, then headed to the cash register.

“(I-I was saved because I know the layout so well…”

Trying to escape to an area well out of his sight, I moved silently through the shelves. …I imagined I was a snake for a second, but I immediately thought “What am I even doing…” and became depressed. …I didn’t come here so I could pretend to be a snake.

“Do you have any copies of Cry… …Crystal Cradle 3, shopkeeper!?”

“I’m just a part-time worker…”

I stealthily made my way to the exit as I watched him finally get the name right. …I already made sure that this store didn’t have a copy of Kurikure 3. By experience, I know that if the package isn’t in the storefront, it’s not in inventory either.

In fact, as I expected, the clerk immediately apologized.

“We sold out of stock for Crystal Cradle 3 yesterday… the next shipment is still unknown.”

“Dammit…! Can nothing else be done…”  

Miyamoto-san collapsed in defeat in front of the register. …What is this, a solo performance? The clerk was really flustered in front of the collapsed Miyamoto-san.

“(Alright, time to leave…)”

While Miyamoto-san was on the ground, I once again made my way to the exit. …I wasn’t able to meet Tendo-san, but it can’t be helped. Since none of the stores had a copy anyway, Tendo-san probably wasn’t able to buy it.

After all…

“(I can just normally give it to her during break time tomorrow!”

Well, she might be able to buy it from an online auction. However, it’s likely that she’ll face the same problems as today.

Also, after spending all of today looking for the game, if I’m able to give my copy to her… then she’ll definitely be grateful, and she might look at me in a better light!

“(It’s a bit misleading, but… Tendo-san will be happy too!

I felt a strange sense of accomplishment as I stealthily made my way past Miyamoto-san. Paying careful attention to the register, I walked out of the store with light steps—

“Ah. Amano-kun!”

“…Huh?”

Hearing someone’s voice from the entrance, my body tensed up in surprise.

“M-misumi-kun!? W-why are you here…”

“Well, the club ended early today, so I also thought to look for a copy of Kurikure 3.”

“O-oh, I see…”

I was sweating buckets. Why… would Misumi-kun be here… I felt a gaze on my back from the register…

But, without knowing the situation, Misumi-kun set off a landmine.

 

“Oh right, Amano-kun, were you able to give your copy of Kurikure 3 to her?”

 

“(Misumi-kuuuuuuuunnnnnnnnnnnnnn!)”

I can’t help but feel hatred towards that big smile! Even though he didn’t have any bad intentions and didn’t know what was happening… sorry, Misumi-kun! I want to hit you really badly!

I didn’t even have time to punch him, though, since I felt a presence approaching me from the back.

Turning around in surprise, there was… not Misumi-kun, but rather, the broadly grinning Miyamoto-san.

“Hey hey, we meet again, boy!”

“Kyaaaaaaaaaaa!”

I involuntary screamed, as if I saw a face from one of Umezu Ka○o’s works. Still unable to read the mood, Misumi-kun tilted his head in curiosity. Miyamoto-san kept smiling with a grin.[4]

Miyamoto stood in front of me, and I broke out in a cold sweat at the situation… in an instant, he abruptly kneeled on the ground and prostrated himself.

“Please! I can pay however much you want, but please give me the game!”

“No!”

I refused instantly. T-this is too valuable. It’ll open up a bridge between me and Tendo-san. It’s not something that can be solved with money.

However, Miyamoto-san kept begging.

“Then what do you want!? My signature!? Do you want my signature!?”

“I don’t want it!”

“What do you mean, you don’t want it! Isn’t that rude to an actor!?”

“I’m sorry!”

I apologized out of habit from the great pressure. I quickly regained my wits.

“No, that’s not it! It’s not that I don’t want your signature, but I cannot give up this game!”

“Then what will make you agree to negotiate!?”

“Nothing can be exchanged!”

“Even if I offered my life!?”

“There’s way too many things wrong with that!”

“Fine. I’m extremely reluctant, but… I’ll go on a date with you once!”

“I’m the one that’s reluctant! It’s on the same level as offering your life!!”

“My signature, life, a date… boy, do you even have anything you want!?”

“I’m normal! Money was the best option out of all of those!”

“Alright, money it is! How about 1500 yen!?”

“That’s not what I’m saying! Also, way too cheap! Even the listed price is higher!”

“…You have a weird sense of values, boy.”

“I have a normal sense of values though!”

Misumi-kun was flustered, not knowing what to do, while the clerk was looking at us while grumbling “Please stop doing weird things in front of the store…”

We kept glaring at each other in silence for a while… He was the first to break the silence.

Suddenly getting up, he dusted off his legs, and looked at me with a wry smile.

“Sorry, boy. I showed you something disgraceful.”

“Huh? No, it’s fine…”

I blinked in confusion.

Miyamoto-san scratched his head and continued on.

“Having helped me a lot today, even if we were strangers, a nice boy like you must have a reason as to why you can’t give me the game. …Sorry, please forgive me.”

“Eh… uh, no… that’s… I’m also sorry too.”

Feeling bad that I tried to stealthily run away from meeting Miyamoto-san, I hung my head in shame. He cheerfully smiled and patted my shoulder.

“What is there for you to apologize for? I was just being selfish.”

“Well… that’s true, but…”

“No, really, you don’t have to worry. In the first place, it wasn’t like I really wanted that game. I was being stubborn.

“H-ha… If you say so…”

“Yea. …Sorry, got a phone call.”

Miyamoto-san took out his smartphone from his shirt pocket. Misumi-kun and I exchanged looks, and then I said, “W-well then, I’ll leave now…”

Misumi-kun, who didn’t know anything to the very end, also awkwardly said bye. Miyamoto-san waved back with a smile.

“Hi, it’s me…”

After seeing that he started talking on the phone, Misumi-kun decided to take a look in the store, and we separated. Finally, time to leave—

 

“Hey, Kaori. Sorry. The game’s sold out everywhere. Yea. …There’s other games to play together at home. Oh, right, also tell my daughter—”

 

I stopped in the middle of the doorway.

 

    *

 

“You actually gave it to some random man on the street!?”

Uehara-kun shouted at me in the classroom the next morning. Attracting the attention of the people out in the hallway, I curled up in my seat.

“…Sorry.”

“If things could be solved with a ‘sorry’, there would be no need for a love comedy police!”

“Where is this love comedy police in the first place?”

“That’s me! I’m the chief of police! And I sentence you to life in prison!”

“That’s not what policemen do…”

“Be quiet, you attempted love comedy suicide!”

“What is this new charge!?”

“Why do you always, always break your own flags with Tendo! You’d do better even if you ran into each other by chance!”

“I have no words to say. However, um, I would like to call for my lawyer, Misumi-kun…”

“Lawyers aren’t allowed in the interrogation room!”

“This love comedy police is very corrupt.”

“That’s because this is an incident at hand! This is just depressing!”

“This system brings happiness to no one, this love comedy police.”

“Shut up! If we’re able to control someone like you, we’ll be happy!”

“What a bad organization. Have I even committed that severe of a crime?”

“…Huh?”

“I’m sorry. I’ll go to my cell.”

Because Uehara-kun had a really angry look on his face, I hung my head in shame. He kept looking at me for a while, and then sighed in resignation.

“…It’s fine already. I know you’re the kind of person to do that.”

“Wah, those words are really like what a friend would say!”

“Shut up, I’ll actually hit you.”

“Wah, those words are really like what a bully would say… …Sorry.”

“…Hah.”

Uehara-kun sighed once again, then continued talking.

“Well, it was your game in the first place. You can do whatever you want with it. But even so, you… gave it to some man that you just met for free. Did you not have the spirit to say that you won’t give up your game for any amount of money?”

“Huh? Oh, well, that spirit hasn’t changed.”

“Hah?”

Uehara-kun tilted his neck, not understanding.

I then told him the whole story.

“Of course, I wouldn’t give up the game for any amount of money. But if someone can be happy, then I would gladly hand it over.”

“…What the hell, are you Buddha? Or are you some god of games?”

I returned a bitter smile to the shocked Uehara-kun.

“I’m not trying to say that at all. Hmm… do you not understand? I’m happy if people can have fun with the games they play.”

“…Is it fine for that man to get it over Tendo?”

“Well, I want Tendo-san to be have fun too. But I think that Tendo-san will probably get her hands on the game eventually. But, in this case, if I didn’t give it to Miyamoto-san, he probably would’ve settled for a different game…”

“You couldn’t let him settle for a different game, huh. …You’re really stupid, aren’t you?”

“…Sorry.”

This time around, even I was surprised. Giving a game to a stranger might be a philanthropic activity, but I still have a bad taste in my mouth. …But… but still…

I know more than anyone else what it means to have fun with your family while playing games.

Uehara-kun laughed and comforted me.

“…Well, isn’t it fine already?”

“Uehara-kun…”

My eyes teared up. Feeling embarrassed, Uehara-kun averted his eyes and changed the subject.

“Well? How are you going to make up for your lost chances now?”

Well, to that question, I… with a smile, answered as I normally would.

 

“I’ll do that by playing fun games, of course!”

 

Epilogue

 

Miyamoto Satoshi, who was returning home, was thinking about the contents of the bag with a smile on his face as he walked in the door.

It’s the game his daughter had wanted for a while now. Furthermore, Miyamoto also wanted the game so he could play with the family. He would’ve paid as much money as he could for it.

Lately, my job has been busy, so I haven’t been able to travel or do much. I was able to get the game at just the right time. Also, my daughter is a child who takes action really quickly, so as soon as she finds a game, I wouldn’t be able to talk to her, but… because of that boy, I was able to find it quickly. With this, I can communicate with her properly.[5]

Feeling excited, Miyamoto rang the intercom.

The nameplate of the house suddenly entered Miyamoto’s vision—it had the characters “Tendo” on it. He laughed to himself as he realized that he got used to using his stage name.

The door opened, and his wife, Tendo Kaori, opened the door with a smile.

Closing her eyes, she told him that their daughter had already come home in disappointment, having not been able to find the game.

Miyamoto returned a smile, walked into the hallway, and…

called out the name of his beloved daughter in a loud voice.
“I’m back! Hey, Karen, come here for a sec—!”


  1. Bocchi is short for hitori bocchi, which means “solitary”.
  2. I’m not sure if this game is a reference to anything. Please tell me if it is.
  3. I’ll be using “()” to denote thoughts.
  4. In Japanese, this is pronounced similarly. I couldn’t find a way to make “binge drinking” rhyme with “cradle”.
  5. Umezu Kazuo is a horror manga author.
  6. PoV is weird in this section. It’s generally in 3rd person, but it was in the PoV of Miyamoto for this paragraph.

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