I. Am. Back!
Saotome-san Wants to Care
This place is one block away from that fancy place which has stuffed toy specialized stores, boutiques, and crepe stores. Maybe this one is particularly popular, because it has a feel of “youths'” town.
Game Center “Vampire.”
This place has some new machines, but it’s almost filled with old machines. The feel of this estabilishment is rather out of place, considering the types of the stores nearby. That said, considering this is an entertainment facility, the place is brimming with people looking for such.
「Oh, this is that game center from before. I didn’t know it was this close.」
「Do you know this place?」
「Yes, I’ve come to this place in the past, with my junior from my previous work.」
I remember that back then our junior was really serious about it, to the point that one of my coworkers had to pull us out after we visited the place.
One of the few pleasant memories from the previous workplace…. Or not.
「What’s wrong Matsutomo-san? Your face is turning into one of hannya’s」
「I just remembered a few things from the past. I just had to remember it.1」
It was fine at the start, as I was still hesitating back then. That said, it was a company that made us work from morning to the last train, which made me think that it should be fine if it’s just a little, so I started going with them.
Getting a stuffed toy from a crane game for my junior, comparing punching power with my coworkers. Playing a two-player FPS game and blaming each other about who’s a dead weight.
「So you were close. Isn’t that a good kind of meeting?」
「Yes, I felt like I was young again. Until that moment, when I saw our company’s president come out from a picture booth with a unknown lady.」
「…..and isn’t that a good kind of meeting?」
「It was a machine that can make your eyelashes pretty.」
And most likely it wasn’t a machine that could make your hair thicker.
「And then? What happened next?」
「Nothing happened. Both parties just said “Crap” and stared at each other for a few moments, then we split up as if nothing happened.」
「An adults’ response.」
「I wonder where did that feeling of reverting to youth go?」
Thanks to that, the atmosphere became really bad and my junior started to hesitate whether to ask about it or not. I had to give my junior some ice cream, just to distract him from that subject.
「By the way, can I ask you something?」
「What would that be?」
「What kind of stuffed toy did you give to your junior?」
「Are you interested about it because you like stuffed toys?」
「Well, that’s about it. It’s not something that I can get from a specialty store, so I was a little curious about what could it be.」
This is serious. She’s looking at it intently. Although we’re talking to each other, her gaze is not on me. She’s looking at “Vampire” really hard, so hard that she could be mistaken for a HellSingle’s4 Hunter.
Well, she’s not the type to enter a game center, so if there’s no opportunity like this, she’s most likely not entering these premises.
「Why don’t we join in? This battlefield.」
「Let’s see. Just a little.」
I accompanied Mio-san to enter the premises, and I could see that nothing changed since that day. It’s still full of lights that can blind you. Mio-san, who looked around the place checking the guiding boards, pointed at something.
「Crane game right? Then let’s do it once, it should be around there.」
「Yes. Although it was a prize from it, I should mention it was several month ago, so I am not sure if the same prize is still there….. Wow there are so many. It looks like a pack of saber tigers that was able to pass through the winter.」
Well basically, it was still there.
Though it was a very pitiful reunion, its colors became stale, hollowed a little, and its fur is starting to clump up.
「That’s a cat, right? That purplish one. Is it a Cheshire one?」
「Maybe it’s some unrelated original character. Since that company’s copyright policy is troublesome to go against with.」
In front of that newly found stuffed toy, Mio-san is sticking to the huge box of glass while trembling a little.
「Why is it so beaten up…. Isn’t that neglect?」
「Mio-san, stuffed toys don’t grow, please wake up. This is what you call, a warrior that was left behind, on the battlefield situated in this game center due to the game center’s strategy.」
「In order to rack up more money, they rigged it so that it would be hard to get, but since it was too hard, the customers stopped coming to this booth.」
「I mean, what would the law say about this….」5
That’s that, and this is this. It’s a tacit understanding. Veterans will stay silent about it, while newbies will be the ones to take the beating. It’s something that everyone would know if they often go to the game center.
「Well, I guess it really won’t be worth trying to get this one. Let’s find the next booth.」
I am a little bit against getting something while not knowing how much it would end up costing.
I mean they’re mostly made cheaply, it should be something out of Mio-san’s interest, since she is really particular about stuffed toys.
While thinking so, I tried to leave that place.
But my sleeves won’t move.
「I want that child, that child is good.」
That onee-san is holding my sleeves, her eyes looking like that of a kid who found a stray cat.
「…Are you serious?」
「I will raise that child.」
「They won’t grow up.」
I said that for the sake of it, but Mio-san’s line of sight is focused on that purplish cat and won’t budge. Since it came to this point, nothing will stop her.
「I understand. You know how to play this right?」
「Yes, I will show you that this meeting is destined.」
「”I will get it in one try.” It’s that sort of declaration right? Okay, I understand.」
With a spectacular determination in her heart, Mio-san went to the front side of the booth, while I looked at her in silence.
Then, after 10 minutes.
「Fate is so cruel.」
「I’m sorry….. I’m sorry…. I know it hurts, I’m really sorry.」
Wow, this person is amazing.
Every time the crane hits the stuffed toy, she apologizes, what an amazing person.