, meanwhile in an alternate timeline.jpg
Tenshi smiled, letting me know without speaking that she was fine with the idea. She directed the driver to drop me off near home. For the duration of the ride, we barely spoke, all too aware that we were being listened to by the silent man in the front. Somehow, I got the feeling that even the little we had done during the day would be reported back to her father. Not that Tenshi seemed to be too worried about the prospect, I caught her looking at me more than once with an undisguised smirk.
“See you soon,” she said as I got out of the car. They left quickly but soon after I got a message on my phone, 'was tempted to make out in backseat whole ride'.
Well, that was something.
When I got home, something else interesting happened. I thought I was all alone but, when I went upstairs to my room, I discovered Marisa at my computer. She was so engrossed in the game she was playing that she only noticed me when I put my hand on her shoulder. She jumped, flailing around until she realized it was just me.
“I thought it was...” she shook her head and collected her thoughts, calming down.
“Yeah, would have been awkward if it had been Auntie,” I said, “especially seeing how you're screwing the big-breasted swim team captain right now.”
“Ehehe,” she gave an awkward laugh, and tried to find the humor in the situation, “you can't really fault me for liking Chiemi, right?”
“No comment,” I chuckled, “I don't judge other people's preferences. What is surprising, however, is that you managed to access the game even though I put on a password on my computer.”
“It took all of five seconds to get around,” she admitted, “maybe you shouldn't leave such obvious hints lying around.” She pointed to the box of the game she was playing. It was next to my screen. My password was its title. Yeah, that was on me.
“You know what?” I said with a sigh, “I'm not going to bother anymore. Feel free to use my computer when I'm not around. Just… I guess… keep your activities limited to games.”
“I'm not good with computers,” Marisa joked, “so I wouldn't know anything about stuff like hidden directories. Err...”
“At the very least, don't judge me because of the contents there,” I shrugged, trying to hide just how much panic was going on internally. My brain was threatening to kill itself out of embarrassment.
“You're a healthy young man, so I guess I can't complain,” Marisa tried to console me, going about it in the most painful way imaginable. “Even if you do have a weird thing going on with girls with moles on their thighs or that thing with the vibrating...”
“Enough, I get the point, you're understanding,” I cut her off before all of my pride as a man was compromised.
“Well, okay,” she said with a smile, “I'm more interested in the plots of your games and comics anyhow. Some of this stuff is really good.” Marisa clicked through the erotic scene as if it was nothing. I wondered if maybe all the sand didn't make that sort of thing awkward in real life…
I shook my head, trying not to get too sucked in by what was going on in the screen. “I guess you can buy a few otome games if you like and install them. I don't mind.”
“Not really interested,” she said, “those things are full of stupid drama. I like the directness of your games. If there's drama, it gets resolved quickly. Besides, it'd be weird trying to pick from all those different guys.”
“You're a girl, you know,” I observed, “isn't it weird for you to pick between all those different girls?”
“Mmm, not really,” she said, “I just imagine that I'm you when I'm playing these and it feels natural. I guess it also comes from watching you do this kind of stuff with real people too.” Once past the erotic scene, Marisa made choices that led her to cross paths with other characters. She ignored the childhood friend and went straight for the idol. She was insatiable. More than that, she had a good instincts. She got scenes that I hadn't easily.
In the end, not having anything better to do, I took to watching her play through the game. We exchanged a few words here and there, mostly about the characters themselves. Every time there was adult content, it got a little awkward, with neither of us proffering a comment. But we made it to the end of the game without any major hassle. She asked me who I wanted to choose at the end.
“Maybe we shouldn't have ignored her all game,” Marisa said with a laugh as we got a bad end where the childhood friend had enough of the protagonists womanizing and rejected him. Luckily, that kind of thing was what saves were for. Marisa loaded up the file and picked someone else and we got the standard scenario ending.
“It's late,” I realized, looking at a clock. We'd been at it for hours.
“Not like we have anything else to do tomorrow,” she said, “still a few days of vacation left. By the way,” Marisa shifted the topic, “what's with that weird book you have on your desk there? Looks valuable.”
She meant the magic book. I had left it out in the open. “Just something I happened to find. I have to return it tomorrow.”
“Looks like a bunch of garbage,” she said, “I looked through it and I don't think it's legitimate.”
“Right, because you're an expert on magic,” I said sarcastically.
“Clearly I'm an expert on the magic of love,” she laughed, “I'm way better than you at these games.”
“Yeah, yeah, whatever,” I brushed her dig at me off, I'd heard worse.
“Let me go with you tomorrow when you return the book, I'm kind of interested in the kind of bookshop that has this kind of stuff.”
“It's mostly just old books, I only got this because the girl at the counter pushed it on me,” I said.
“Oh?” she smiled knowingly, “I bet she was pretty cute for you to fall into a classic trap like that.”
“She was younger than us. I'm sure you know from snooping around my computer that I'm not really into younger girls,” I explained, trying to save face in the most roundabout way possible. Marisa was pushing my buttons with an intimacy that I thought was only possible with Alice and Suika.
“What, what are you smiling at?” she asked. “You look goofy when you space out like that.”
“Eh, nothing, just thinking how I've gotten used to living with you already,” I said.”
“You dummy,” she slunk down in the chair, smiling sheepishly, “no fair bringing something like that up just because I've got you on the ropes.”
“Sorry, couldn't help myself,” I said.
 Let Marisa come to the bookshop.
 Go alone.